TUCSON - In the final match of the regular season, the No. 22 Arizona State Sun Devils (18-7; Pac-12 5-5) women's tennis team was upset by the No. 31 Arizona Wildcats, 4-2, on Saturday afternoon on the Campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz.
The visiting Sun Devils started strong in doubles winning two sets and capturing the overall point, but were unable to carry the momentum through the completion of singles competition.
"I thought obviously we came out and did well winning the doubles point," ASU Head Coach Sheila McInerney said. "I thought we played well at No. 1 and No. 2, No. 3 was still going, but you know we felt pretty good coming out after the doubles point and then we lost two matches where we won the first set which is obviously disappointing."
Those two matches in question were the competition on courts No. 1 and No. 6 -- Stephanie Vlad won her first set 6-4 over Lacey Smyth, but then dropped the second 6-1 and the third 7-6 (7-3). Gussie O'Sullivan represented the Sun Devils on the sixth court and overpowered Laura Oldham 6-2 in the first set, but then dropped 6-3 in the second and 6-2 in the third.
And those two matches -- the only ones of the day to go into three sets -- ended up being the match sealing wins for the Wildcats.
Leading up to that point, the balance of power shifted back and forth. The first captured singles point was by freshman Kassidy Jump on the No. 3 court. Jump defeated her opponent Lauren Marker in two identical sets, 6-3.
And at that point, Jump's win put the Sun Devils up by two.
As is typical in any Arizona-Arizona State matchup, the only time the score matters is when it goes final. And unfortunately for ASU, it would be the last time they held a commanding lead.
Kim Stubee defeated Desirae Krawczyk on the No. 2 court in two sets, 6-3, 6-2, to bring Arizona within one. Shayne Austin followed up for the Wildcats, winning on the fifth court over Ebony Panoho with the exact same score - 6-3, 6-2.
Swing back to the matchup between O'Sullivan and Oldham on the sixth court. Oldham's win gave Arizona the go-ahead point and Smyth's sealed the deal.
And as in any good rivalry matchup, the underdog is always hungry for more. In this case, the Wildcats laid down a four point swing to come from behind and capture the fourth needed point.
"It was unfortunate, but we know from this that we need to get better," McInerney said. "You never want to end your regular season losing against your rival, and we lose a territorial cup point, but you know we've got a lot of pride for our school and we can build on this for NCAA's."
Thankfully it's a short trip back home for Arizona State, and it didn't take long to put this one behind them. The focus shifted from the failed match to the upcoming weeks very quickly.
"It's no question that we're going to be in the national tournament, so it's just going to be a matter of looking to get better from this match and play two great matches to get out of the regional and into the Sweet 16," McInerney said.
No. 31 Arizona 4 :: No. 22 Arizona State 2
1:00 p.m. PDT