ASU tennis eliminated in second round of NCAA Championships
The No. 26 Arizona State Sun Devils (17-6; 6-4 Pac-12) women's tennis team was knocked from the second round of the NCAA Division I Tennis Championships on Sunday afternoon in Athens, Ga. The hometown Georgia Bulldogs defeated ASU by a score of 4-0, handing the Sun Devils just their sixth loss of the season.
"I think we're all certainly disappointed that we were not able to advance, but I was pleased with the team's overall play today," Arizona State Head Coach Sheila McInerneysaid. "I'm proud of our fight today but we just needed to be a bit tougher."
The only recorded win for ASU on the day took place on the No. 3 doubles court, where the senior sophomore pairing of Hannah James and Joanna Smith defeated Mia King and Ayaka Okuno of Georgia 8-3. This win followed a loss on the No. 1 doubles court, tying the point at 1-1, giving ASU a chance to clinch the doubles point. ASU's Desirae Krawczykand Leighann Sahagun were unable to beat out Georgia's Lauren Herring and Maho Kowase on the No. 2 court, giving the Bulldogs the early match advantage, 1-0.
"Joanna (Smith) and Hannah (James) played great at third doubles and Desirae (Krawczyk) and Leighann (Sahagun) got off to a really good start in their match," McInerney said.
In singles play, ASU started off winning the first set in three different matches. This early success proved to be not enough however, as Georgia clinched the fourth overall match point on the No. 5 court. Hannah James was defeated in a three set match by Ayaka Okuno 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. Prior to that, Stephanie Vlad fell 6-1, 6-3 on the No. 4 court and Leighann Sahagun was defeated by Silvia Garcia 6-2, 7-6 (1).
At the point in time where Hannah James was shaking hands with her Georgia opponent, three different matches were each in their third set, including No. 21 Jacqueline Cako'smatch against No. 6 Lauren Herring that was left unfinished at 4-6, 6-2, 3-1.
"The singles was really competitive as we won three first sets and were battling hard in the other two matches. We had a little opening but to Georgia's credit they came back and fought hard in those second sets," McInerney said.
The final loss of the season, just the sixth overall team loss for the Sun Devils, marked an end to one of the best seasons under Head Coach Sheila McInerney. With the win in the previous round against the University of Oklahoma, ASU notched their 17th win of the season -- the most since 20 wins in 2001, giving a season end 17 and 6 record. In her career as the leader of the women's tennis team at Arizona State, McInerney has amassed a total of 430 victories.
"We were right there with the No. 4 team in country so hopefully our young kids will build on that for next year," McInerney said.
Senior Jacqueline Cako will continue to compete in the NCAA Singles Championship, May 22-27, following the team championship competition in Champaign, Ill. Cako will compete in the singles championship after being named the 2013 Scholar Athlete of the Year in tennis by the Pac-12 Conference.
Cako will also compete with her senior partner, Nicole Smith, in the NCAA Doubles Championship. The senior pairing went 14-6 on the 2013 season, giving ASU their first doubles bid since Kelcy McKenna and Micaela Hein qualified in 2011.