Women's tennis outlook
The 2009-2010 Arizona State University women's tennis team faces challenging non-conference games this season as well as the tough Pac-10 conference. The Sun Devils enter a highly competitive conference that includes three top 25 teams: fourth ranked California, reigning Pac-10 Champions No. 9 USC and No. 12 UCLA.
"Playing in the Pac-10 certainly poses its challenges but we're certainly up for them," said Coach Sheila McInerney who will be entering her 26th season as head coach. "We have our work cut out for us but I think it's great."
Juniors Micaela Hein and Kelcy McKenna finished last season as All-Americans in doubles. The pair competed at the NCAA Doubles Championships last season and finished ranked 21st .The powerful doubles team of Hein and McKenna will definitely be playing doubles in the fall to start off the season. The doubles teams may start to switch up a little bit further along in the season. "It's always good to play with somebody new," said Coach McInerney. "Sometimes playing with the same party can get you a little bit stale."
Coach McInerney has labeled Hein the team's secret weapon. Hein has been instrumental to the team in the last two year's especially in big matches.
"The bigger the match the better she is," said McInerney. "When she plays she goes out there and wins. She's a darn good player. She's one of the best competitors I think we have. "
McKenna was a singles and doubles All-American last season. She became the first Sun Devil to earn All-American honors in both singles and doubles since Adria Engel in 2002. McKenna also made the collegiate college All-Star team and was able to play in some professional tournaments this summer as an amateur.
"It let her see what else is out there other than the college tennis," said Coach McInerney. "I think she came back to school physically in the best shape she's ever been in and she's normally is great shape anyway."
"Ashlee will be instrumental in our doubles again this year like she was last year," said McInerney. "From a single's standpoint, the way she's playing right now she certainly is competitive with any of the kids. She's been working hard, she's in good shape, and she's serving and playing really well. I think she's really excited about the fall tournaments we have coming up. She'll be ready to go."
Nadia Abdala and Amanda Martin are two seniors returning to the Sun Devils team this year. Abdala went as far as the second round of the NCAA Individual Championship in singles and was named Second-Team All-PAC-10 last season. Coach McInerney says she is doing a great job working hard and showing a lot of leadership.
"I think she's just raring to go," said McInerney. "She's so excited about her senior year and the prospects of the team. Her game's improved. Everything's gotten better. She's trying to get physically stronger. Now it's just a matter of taking it to that next level from a physical standpoint."
Martin has been working hard trying to do as much as she can to get the team on the same page according to Coach McInerney. Martin struggled with a back problem this summer that has lingered over to the fall.
"From a tennis standpoint, it's probably going to take her this fall to get prepared," said McInerney. "From the standpoint of leading the team and helping out, I think she's doing a really good job."
Sophomores Michelle Brycki, Sianna Simmons, and Deirdre Cienki return to the roster this year. Coach McInerney says sophomore Michelle Brycki is almost like having a new recruit. Brycki joined the Sun Devils in January 2008 but was not eligible to play until March.
"By the end of the year she was playing great tennis," said McInerney. "She came back to school in really good shape knowing what was expected. I think she'll do a great job for singles and I'm expecting her to play in the doubles line up as well. I'm expecting great things from her."
Simmons became a consistent starter for the Sun Devils early in her first season at ASU last year, playing primarily in the sixth spot. Coach McInerney says she's definitely playing the best tennis she's played since she's been here.
"She's sometimes can be her own worst critique," said McInerney. "She has improved a lot but she's always wanting more. We just keep her positive. The direction she's moving in I think she's going to be super for us no question."
Cienki has taken on a different role on the team this year. She has been physically unable to play so she has been helping out with updates on the website, community relations, encouraging people to attend matches, and helping with a team blog.
"She's doing a really good job with the media aspects of the team," said McInerney.
The Sun Devils lone freshman is Nicole Smith. Smith tore her anterior cruciate legiment in her knee last March, had surgery in May, and according to Coach Inerney is now doing phenomenally.
"We have to make sure we stay the course getting her physically ready to play because an ACL is not the easiest of injuries," said McInerney. "We have to make sure we don't push her too soon. She's got a lot of ability. She'll definitely help us in doubles."
Smith is expected to be ready to go by January.
The Arizona State women's tennis team started their season in Berkeley, Calif. October 2nd at the Cal Nike Invitational with each of the team members that went obtaining wins. The first home match for the Sun Devils will be November 6th in the ASU Thunderbird Tournament.