Emily Kirchem, Anne Andersen, Carla Pallares and Lauren Strasburger competed in the Air Force Invitational this weekend minus a few teammates who weren't invited to the elite class. The girls came into the Invitational expecting the toughest competition of the year.
"I think it was harder than any of the other tournaments," said freshman Strasburger. "There were more teams and they were tougher."
In the first day of action, CSU started with a couple of losses. Strasburger lost to New Mexico's Lucy Scott in the qualifying rounds 6-3, 6-0. Senior Carla Pallares also lost in her first match to Melissa Cornett of Arkansas 6-1, 7-5. But they still had doubles competition to look forward to the next day, as would Kirchem and Andersen.
"I was really nervous and did not feel like I played real well," said Strasburger of her singles effort. "I did not have to make any major adjustments, but I wasn't hitting too well."
Day two would finally bring about a CSU victory. Andersen started the day with a win against Jill Palen of Iowa State 6-2, 6-2. Kirchem however was not able to pull out a victory against Colorado rival Jessica Vanderdys, losing 6-2, 5-7, 6-1.
The downtrend would continue in doubles play. New Mexico State's Nicole Fintell and Isabelle Mignot defeated Andersen and Kirchem 8-6. Carla Pallares and Lauren Strasburger also lost to Oklahoma State's Zuzanna Osinska and Iryna Tkachenko.
Overall on the season doubles has been an issue for the Rams. They have not been able to achieve the success they had set their sights on.
"Doubles was a little rough but I think we can do better," Kirchem said. "I don't know if our coach (Messick) will continue changing the combinations, but I think our teams are good."
Despite the issues with doubles play, the No. 1 team of Kirchem and Andersen is set. Part of the reason they have been united is their chemistry.
"Me and Anne have a really strong chemistry," Kirchem said. "We have a great amount of confidence. It makes it easy to go out there, have fun and let the score take care of itself."
The third day of competition featured Andersen in a draw against CU rival, Monica Milevski.
In singles play, Kirchem, who already was in the consolation bracket, lost to Nora Quintal of New Mexico 3-6, 6-2, 13-11. The loss would end her tournament.
Overall singles has been a strong factor for Ram's tennis, despite the disappointing showing this weekend.
"I would say our strongest factor is our singles," Kirchem said. "A lot of people are getting used to working with others. That adjustment process is going to take a while."
With the end of this tournament, CSU's fall season is over. They will continue action in January.
"I think that we did really well this fall," Kirchem said. "Based on the fact that we played so few tournaments in the fall, our play looks promising for the spring. If we keep working on our game we will have a deep team."
Even though their season is over, that does not mean they have nothing to do.
"During the off season we do a lot of conditioning. We are already in good shape but we can bring that to a higher level," said Kirchem. "We can keep improving on the team. One thing we can improve is our team unity, supporting one another on and off court."
Supporting one another is one thing they can expect to work on as well as their personal abilities.
"I did really well in the first tournament but the last few I have struggled," Strasburger said. "I want to be more consistent."
CSU's next tennis match will be on Jan. 27, when they will face Nebraska in Lincoln.