No. 37 Sun Devil Tennis opens 2013 Spring season
After over a month break from the fall season, the No. 37 Arizona State women's tennis team will return to the courts for an opening week homestand against Northern Arizona on Saturday, and UC Davis on Jan. 20. The Sun Devils will return to the Whiteman Tennis Center at full strength with no injuries to note, and nationally-ranked-senior Jacqueline Cako ready for action.
"It's the first match of the year, you're always going to be really excited -- we've been practicing for a couple weeks and I feel that we're ready," ASU Head Coach Sheila McInerney said. "In a sport like tennis when you play individually in the fall, and now you're playing team in the spring, it's just a totally different format and I think the girls always look forward to the spring season."
The fall season proved fruitful for the Sun Devils, with tournament competition in Michigan, California and Arizona. At the top of the fall season performance list is freshman Desirae Krawczyk's second place finish at the 2012 ASU Thunderbird Invitational.
Arizona State lost two top athletes last year to graduation, with Michelle Brycki and Sianna Simmons accepting their diplomas. Brycki competed regularly on the No.2 singles court and made appearances at the No.1 court. Three more student-athletes have stepped up to the plate however, leading the team through practices and the beginning of the season.
"We've got three seniors, with Hannah (James), Nikki (Nicole Smith, and Jacqueline (Cako), but other than that it's a pretty young team with a lot of underclassmen. It's a combination of some great experience with some younger ones. "
A perfect test of that experience will be this weekend -- in-state competition Northern Arizona is returning all six of their top lineup and will stop by Tempe on Saturday. UC Davis competed at the Cal Nike Invitational alongside the Sun Devils, but no matchups saw contenders from both teams.
In her 29th season, Coach McInerney has coached through many first weekends of the season. And while all of the Sun Devils have been playing tennis since their ages were in the single digits, McInerney knows that each new season is like starting a new chapter of each of the girls' lives -- but the game plan is still the same.
"I think just going out there and trying to play our game style, not worrying so much about the opponent but just focusing on how we play. A lot of serves, returns, patterns of play that make us successful are going to be important," McInerney said.
"I know that both (assistant coach) Clint (Letcher) I are ready for the season to start."