Iowa State tennis ends fall season on high note

Brian Mozey

The Jason’s Deli Collegiate Invitational allowed Cyclone tennis players to prove themselves for the regular season lineup, giving ISU coach Armando Espinosa some hard decisions ahead in the next couple months.

“The lineup is still up in the air,” Espinosa said. “We have the entire month of November, December and a couple weeks in January to see what can happen, so nothing is written down yet.”

Each day got progressively better during the tournament and allowed players to have some confidence going into the regular season. Senior Meghan Cassens has had the hot hand in singles matches this fall going 9-1 overall.

Cassens has been surprised by her success lately as opposed to previous fall seasons. She wants to continue from this success and use it in the regular season in the spring.

“I feel like I always end the fall pretty negatively in past years,” Cassens said. “It’s always been pretty negative throughout the entire fall season, so it’s nice not having to rebuild my confidence going into the spring season.” 

Senior Ksenia Pronina performed well this weekend in singles as well as doubles with sophomore Samantha Budai. As the number-one singles player for Iowa State last year, Pronina believes her fall performance will lead to great play in the spring.

“I thought I did really well in the Gopher Invitational as well as in Houston. The ITA Regionals was a little disappointing, but I was able to shake the loss off easily and find my game again,” Pronina said.

Many people are looking at Budai to take over the number-one spot after the seniors leave this year, and she is ready to prove it.

“As a team we played really well and fought hard for our wins. Personally, I felt like I incorporated my practice styles for the first time,” Budai said. “I’ve been struggling to show my style in match play.”

The highlight from the weekend came Nov. 2 when the team went 3-0 in doubles and 4-1 in singles against Big 12-rival Oklahoma. The dominant performance built confidence for the players since they will be playing against these teams throughout the spring season.

“Each team we played this weekend was ranked in the top 75 sometime last season, so if we can compete with that then our confidence should rise for the spring season,” Espinosa said.

The team now faces a two-and-a-half-month break from competition and matches. They continue to practice, but these months are typically the hardest to stay in shape. It’s also hard to continue to practice on a daily basis.

“This time of the year is always the toughest because we practice less, but you still need to practice on your own,” Pronina said. “You can’t pause during winter break because when you get back you’re competing right away.”

The ISU tennis team will now wait until Jan. 17 to play in the Florida Gulf Coast Invitational.