In their first action since winning the Mountain West Conference consolation bracket championship last spring, CSU tennis returned with few signs of rust at the BYU Invitational.
Arguably one of the Rams' biggest issues to be addressed is the doubles play. With the graduation of Alex Paganetti and Dasha Zhurin, the tennis team's doubles play has suffered two major losses. The depth of the new tennis team would be challenged in doubles.
In doubles matches over the weekend CSU finished 2-3. Things started off promising for the Rams as Emily Kirchem and Anne Andersen won over Alex Ilie and Gabriela Vinditto of Weber State. Senior Carla Pallares and freshman Lauren Strasburger also earned a win over Utah State's Jill Smith and Lauren Monson.
But after the first two wins, things went down hill.
"We all had new partners and it was hard. We focused more on singles in practice and haven't played doubles much," said Jones. "We did the best we could with time together, but we need to get used to each other."
Singles would prove to be more favorable for the Rams. Perhaps one of the biggest improvements this year is their depth. CSU started off the tournament with a major win by two freshmen.
Strasburger knocked off Liz Ferris of Utah in her second collegiate match. Last year, Ferris finished the season ranked No. 19 in the Central region. CSU freshman Greer Satherlie won her first two matches and ousted No. 3 seed Karine Bourdages of Utah.
"They were all a little nervous but once they started, they did really well," said senior Jessica Jones. "They pulled together when they needed to. It was impressive to see that they were playing seniors and not getting flustered or succumbing to mind tricks."
CSU also got help from some of their veterans. Anderson came up with a win against BYU's Sofia Holden, who finished last season ranked No. 27 in the Central region.
In all, day one would see CSU finish at 10-3 in singles play. CSU finished the tournament with a record of 17-11.
The quarterfinals pinned two CSU players against one another – Kirchem and Anderson. The end result was Anderson beating Kirchem 6-2, 6-3, but for those on the sidelines things got a little awkward.
"The match was fun to watch. They have never played a match in tournaments before. They play in practice but it is completely different. It was fun to watch and both played well," Jones said. "It was hard though because we wanted to cheer but not show favoritism. We still wanted to let them know we cared."
Head coach Jon Messick seemed to like the direction the program was going.
"I was very pleased with how well we played at the tournament," Messick said. "It shows that we are moving up in the region when it is Colorado State and BYU in the final matches."
The Rams' next competition will be Oct. 2 in Pacific Palisades, Calif.