On Sept. 29, the Iowa State women’s tennis team will send Karen Alvarez to compete in singles at the Bluejay Invitational held at Creighton. The rest of the team will remain in Ames.
The invitational will run until Saturday, Sept. 30.
The Cyclones fared well last week at the Gopher Invitational finishing 17-7 during doubles with a scorching 4-0 finish on the final day. Alvarez will look to improve upon the 10-13 record the team earned during singles play in her absence.
Assistant coach Olga Elkin will accompany Alvarez at the invitational. Alvarez was at the Gopher Invitational, but her play was cut short by illness.
“We just want to get Karen some more games,” said coach Armando Espinosa when asked why Alvarez was the only player traveling.
Alvarez hopes to improve her confidence throughout the duration of the invitational.
Alvarez's focus throughout the week has been on serve placement, serve technique and tactics. The coaches have worked with Alvarez to improve the motion of her serve. Tactically, Alvarez hopes to improve her positioning on the court.
“This will allow me to gain an advantage over an opponent,” Alvarez said.
The rest of the team will remain in Ames to practice and recover. Coach Espinosa will also remain in Ames.
Much like Alvarez, the team has been focusing on serving placement. The team has been partaking in a lot of basic drills dedicated to technique.
Poor placement and passive serves can lead to the players being put in vulnerable positions after a serve. Coach Espinosa wants the players to become more aggressive when serving.
Putting the pressure on opposing players is something that coach Espinosa has sought since the beginning of the season.
“Our serving percentage is good we just need better placement,” coach Espinosa said.
Double faults and mental mistakes have been an issue that the team hopes to fix in the coming weeks.
Ekaterina Repina is recovered from injury that she suffered during the Gopher Invitational, but is now experiencing sickness. Erin Freeman also suffered an injury, but the resulting issue is from a past injury.
Freeman injured her meniscus two to three seasons ago. The resulting injury required significant surgery and Freeman now experiences pain and swelling flare-ups.
The flare-ups often occur during the long tournaments that are a staple of the fall season. Often, Freeman requires rest and recovery days to help manage and avoid the resulting flare-ups, including one at the Gopher Invitational.
Last week, Repina paired with Mary Cancini in the No. 1 doubles spot and Freeman paired with Regina Espindola in the No. 3 spot prior to their injuries.
The host team of the the Bluejay Invitational, Creighton, is coming into the weekend with over a week of rest after participating in the Drake Invitational from Sept. 15 to Sept. 17.
Creighton went a solid 7-3 during doubles, but posted a 5-8 record during singles play competing against the likes of Minnesota, UNI and Northern Illinois among others.
A healthy Alvarez should be able to capitalize on these precious early season singles matches and string together several victories.