Three seniors, four memorable seasons

Senior Caroline Hauge Andersen goes to hit the ball during practice on Tuesday.

Brian Mozey

With four years of tennis coming to a close and only graduation separating them from the end of their ISU careers, the three seniors on the ISU tennis team are able to reflect on their careers at Iowa State.

Seniors Meghan Cassens, Ksenia Pronina and Caroline Hauge Andersen have been teammates and friends since the first day of practice their freshman year. This friendship has only grown since that moment, and with graduation upcoming, the three of them looked back on the ups and downs in their four-year career.

“If it wasn’t for Meghan [Cassens] and Ksenia [Pronina], I wouldn’t be at Iowa State playing tennis after my freshman year,” Andersen said. “It was a long and rocky obstacle for me that led to many injuries.”

Andersen faced a bone spur injury from the end of her freshman year to the beginning of her sophomore year. This injury hurt her playing chances until this current season, which she has consistently played No. 3 doubles.

Cassens and Pronina, however, avoided any injuries in their first year and were able to contribute to the team right away. Cassens played No. 4 singles and Pronina played No. 2 singles on a consistent basis. Even though Andersen was facing injuries, Cassens and Pronina always made sure to get her in the loop.

“These unexpected events like injuries always happen and it’s nice to have two teammates you can lean back on,” said ISU coach Armando Espinosa. “Meghan, Caroline and Ksenia have had each others’ backs since they stepped foot on campus their freshman year.”

All three seniors have faced their share of challenges, but the support given has made it a great four years at Iowa State. With four years comes many memories and there are a few that stand out for the three of them.

“I’ll always remember the road trips to different matches and the long discussions off the court,” Cassens said. “I’ve been able to understand them as a person and not only a player.”

Espinosa said he’s been able to understand them on a personal level instead of just as players. He commends their effort and leadership on and off the court as well as having the positive energy a tennis team needs throughout the season.

Espinosa also said he thinks a big part of this season’s successes has come from the leadership of the three seniors. They are leading by example by winning big singles matches against top ranked teams in the Big 12 and helping the younger players learn their game and incorporate it into matches.

The three seniors hope they’ve taught the younger players how to play ISU tennis and to think of this sport as a team and not an individual. Andersen said you will win more matches if you’re thinking of the team and not your individual matches.

“With this being our last year together, we’ve been trying to hang out and talk more often,” Cassens said. “After this year, we’re not sure when we’ll see each other in the future.”

After graduation, the three seniors will spilt off to different countries. Cassens will spend her summer traveling in Europe and then go home to Seattle to find a job in business. While she’s finding a job, she hopes to work as a coach for a local tennis academy.

Pronina will stay at Iowa State for one more semester to finish up her marketing degree. As for working with Espinosa next semester, she’s still not sure and will decide this summer.

Andersen is going back home to her country, Norway, to work for an advertising company. She hopes to come back to the United States on occasion to see friends and Iowa State.

As for their four years playing college tennis, the three players can sum it up in four words: indescribable, perseverance and learning experience. The three seniors have had to work hard and overcome many obstacles to get to where they are today. They’ve learned not only the game of tennis, but the people they shared the game of tennis with and it’s created a memorable four years at Iowa State.

“Looking back at my four years, I wouldn’t have changed anything because it was a great experience,” Pronina said. “We’re not done yet because we still have a Big 12 championship to compete for and our focus is on that.”