The Big 12 Tournament begins for ISU tennis


Jenna Reeves/Iowa State Daily

Senior Caroline Hauge Andersen returns the ball during the doubles matches against Oklahoma on Feb. 22, 2015. The Cyclones lost 4-2.

Brian Mozey

The ISU tennis team broke a record going into the Big 12 tournament this weekend, one that is going to add some confidence as well as pressure in its first round matchup.

For the first time in program history, No. 8-seeded Iowa State is the favorite entering the first round match against No. 9-seeded Kansas State on Thursday at the Big 12 Championship. This will be one of two matches to start the first round of the Big 12 tournament. With all of the players back to health, the confidence of the team is high but the pressure is on because the mentality is to win or go home.

“This is the first time that the Iowa State tennis program are the favorites in the first round of the Big 12 tournament,” said coach Armando Espinosa. “This is exciting for the players but it also shows that we should win this match, which adds pressure.”

Senior Caroline Andersen said the pressure just comes with the tournament because the atmosphere is intense and being the favorite is unfamiliar territory for the ISU tennis team. Being the favorite though, adds excitement and self-assurance because the team has the ability to get the job done and advance in the tournament.

The ISU tennis team won the regular season match against Kansas State 4-3 on March 22 in Manhattan, Kan. Iowa State lost the doubles point, but came back to win four of the singles matches to win 4-3.

“We learned their doubles pairings really well last time,” said senior Meghan Cassens. “We hope to incorporate what we’ve been doing in practice and our prior knowledge of the pairings to this upcoming match to get the doubles point.”

Espinosa said the doubles point will be important to win, especially in the Big 12 tournament but it’s not essential. He’s just hoping that the team plays its game and waits for Kansas State to make the mistakes.

The doubles and singles lineups will be the same from last time, so it gives the players an understanding of who they’re playing and what to expect. Junior Alejandra Galvis has been practicing this week and the expectation is for her to play Thursday.

“I took Alejandra out of last Saturday’s match because of precaution with the Big 12 tournament coming up,” Espinosa said. “She’s fine and ready to play hard on Thursday.”

All of the players are ready to compete, especially Cassens because she wants to redeem herself from her last match against Kansas State. In doubles with junior Ana Gasparovic as her partner, they lost 6-3. She was also shut out in her singles match losing 6-0, 6-0 in straight sets.

Cassens said she doesn’t know what happened that day, but that’s in the past. She knows she’s been successful these past couple of weeks and said she’s going to use that confidence for Thursday’s match.

If the ISU tennis team wins Thursday against Kansas State, it will play No. 1-seeded Baylor on Friday in Waco, Texas.

“We can’t think about Friday yet because we need to have the attitude that if we lose, we go home,” Andersen said. “And I’m not ready to go home quite yet.”