ISU tennis faces final challenge of fall season

Brian Mozey

Practice makes perfect and the Cyclone tennis team has been practicing to finish the fall season strong. The players are healthy and ready compete at the Jason’s Deli Collegiate Invitational this weekend.

The lineup has almost been set for the regular season, but the invitational in Houston, Texas will finalize the pairings for doubles and seeds for singles.

“The four pairings for doubles have been playing really well and I’d be okay switching these four in and out throughout the regular season,” said coach Armando Espinosa.

Even though the majority of the lineups are set, Espinosa is still wanting to change positions and seeds around to see different outcomes.

For example, senior Ksenia Pronina has been the number-one singles player for the last couple seasons and Espinosa wants to see if sophomore Samantha Budai can handle the top spot this season.

Senior Meghan Cassens is looking forward to being able to play more matches after a disappointing ITA Regionals earlier this season. Cassens has been fighting an injury suffered during practice.

“I hurt myself at the beginning of last week so I didn’t play many practice matches last week, but I wanted to make sure I was ready for the invitational this coming weekend,” Cassens said.

Senior Caroline Andersen wants to incorporate what she’s learned from practice and looks forward to competing against some Big 12 schools and other elite tennis programs.

“Practice has been intense the past three weeks and has been rough on everyone’s bodies, but I believe we’re ready for the weekend,” Andersen said.

After this invitational, the team will not be competing for two-and-a-half months until after winter break when the regular season starts. Espinosa and many of the players worry about the length of the break and losing the competitive atmosphere.

“We want to have the right mindset going into winter break that we’ll be able to stay in shape because the regular season comes quick after the break,” Cassens said.

The doubles pairings for this weekend include Pronina and Budai, junior Ana Gasparovic and Cassens, junior Alejandra Galvis and Andersen and sophomores Natalie Phippen and Talisa Merchiers.

The Cyclones will compete against Big 12 teams like Kansas, Kansas State, TCU and Oklahoma. The other teams participating are Houston, Syracuse, Stephen F. Austin, Rice and a few other of the nation’s tougher schools.