Doubles duo finishes last season together


Jenna Reeves/Iowa State Daily

Senior Meghan Cassens looks for the ball during her singles match against Oklahoma on Feb. 22, 2015. The Cyclones lost 4-2.

Brian Mozey

Chemistry is essential for a doubles pairing. With two and half years paired together, senior Meghan Cassens and junior Ana Gasparovic have developed a strong communication with one another and are ready to compete during the Big 12 season.

After a couple seasons together, the trust has been built and has led to important wins for the team, as well as themselves. This trust was hard to build in the beginning because of a tough transition for Gasparovic.

“It was tough playing doubles in general because I never played with a partner in high school,” Gasparovic said. “I was also intimidated by Meghan because she was a sophomore and had more experience.”

Gasparovic said she didn’t come to the team until the start of the regular season in the spring. She wasn’t able to connect with many of the players because there wasn’t as much down time during the regular season.

With Gasparovic in mind, coach Armando Espinosa thought it would be best to pair Cassens and Gasparovic together for the season because they had a couple more years to get comfortable with one another.

“In doubles, it’s all about finding that balance,” Espinosa said. “Meghan and Ana had strengths and weaknesses that balanced each other to create a solid pairing.”

In the beginning, Gasparovic made sure to figure out the strengths and weaknesses with each other, so they could be more dominant on the court.

“Meghan is a fighter when it comes to any match on the court,” Gasparovic said. “I’ll never forget her screaming after missing a point, but she’s still winning her match.”

Cassens said she noticed the exact opposite in Gasparovic’s game and this led to a great pairing where both of their personalities balanced each other out. 

“Ana is very level headed, which is nice to have the court to calm you down,” Cassens said. “Even when we’re down, there’s always an upside and chances to win with Ana.”

Trust and chemistry is needed to be comfortable on the court and accomplish the task of winning every match. For Cassens and Gasparovic, the trust developed substantially once they became friends and learned more about each other.

After the first spring season, the friendship grew and this led to some important wins for the team and as individuals. The biggest win came against Oklahoma on April 6, 2014 during their first full year together.

“Everything went perfect in that [Oklahoma] match,” Cassens said. “This was the point where we figured out our playing styles, which created this great doubles pairing.”

Cassens and Gasparovic defeated a ranked Oklahoma doubles pairing 8-5 and that win built their confidence and made them realize how dominant they could be as a pairing.

With Cassens facing her senior year and Gasparovic returning from her wrist injury, Cassens said she is excited to have Gasparovic back to compete in the Big 12 and make these two couple months memorable.

On the other hand, Gasparovic said she doesn’t want Cassens to leave after this year because she’ll need a new doubles partner for next year.

“It’s going to be difficult to transition into a brand new partner after being with Meghan [Cassens] for the last two and half years,” Gasparovic said. “I just hope that I’m paired with someone that develops the same chemistry I had with Meghan [Cassens].”

Espinosa said he’s not looking ahead to next year, especially with the Big 12 matches coming up this week. But he’s not worried about the pairings.

“It’ll figure itself out,” Espinosa said. “We’ll be losing three key players next year, but hopefully we have the talent to fill their shoes for next season.”

As for the Cassens and Gasparovic pairing, the era will soon end, but Espinosa said that he’ll always remember their success and commitment to the game of tennis.

“I’m not thinking about the end of the season right now,” Cassens said. “I’m still focused on winning some Big 12 matches and hopefully a Big 12 title.”