Strong efforts in singles play were not enough to lift No. 21 ASU (15-5; 5-4 Pac-12) over No. 13 Stanford on Saturday afternoon at the Whiteman Tennis Center in Tempe, Ariz. Sun Devil freshman Ebony Panoho was the only player able to earn a win for ASU, bringing her total to 7 wins of the last 9 matches.
"This was a more competitive match than the score shows, I thought we competed better today than we did yesterday, but like I said our doubles just have to get better," ASU Head Coach Sheila McInerney said. "The passion and energy was improved but I still wasn't really pleased."
Doubles continued to be a rough spot for ASU, with both nationally ranked teams dropping their matches. The only unranked ASU doubles team, the sophomore-freshman pairing of Joanna Smith and Ebony Panoho, was also unable to control the lead at the point the match was called.
"The last four matches we've been playing a lot better teams, there are no questions about it. But with that being said, I think that we need to play much better doubles in these last few matches," McInerney said. "We played decently against UCLA last weekend, but we didn't play very well in doubles yesterday or today."
Singles seemed to be a mirror image of the day prior with freshman Ebony Panoho earning the lone point for ASU. The freshman for ASU defeated the senior Cardinal in a well-fought three set match on the No. 6 court, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4. Panoho was more than happy to add another win to her bucket -- a bucket that includes seven wins in her last nine appearances on the court. The Australian native went perfect in Pac-12 play before dropping two matches to USC and UCLA.
With yet another close match ending in defeat on the No. 3 court, sophomore Leighann Sahagun is left trying to figure out what she needs to do to make it over the hump. Sahagun has come close to sending matches to three sets in her last three times out on the court.
"I've had so many close matches recently and I've come short every single time. I haven't lost any confidence in myself, I mean I'm competing with the best in the country -- but It's just so annoying because I can't get it," Leighann Sahagun said. "I really need to push myself in practice, really bring it to whoever I face and make myself the toughest opponent they are going to play."
The last match of the day ended unfavorably yet again for ASU, handing senior Hannah James her seventh loss of the season -- the senior has earned a 12-7 record overall playing on the third, fourth and fifth courts.
"There positive from today's match is that we played better in the singles than yesterday. Our kids have been working really hard," McInerney said. "So much of it is belief, and we got on them about that after yesterday against Cal. We came out and started well and played better today."
With only one regular season match up left on the schedule, Arizona State will welcome in-state rival the University of Arizona to Tempe for senior day on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Before the match starts, the team will honor the three seniors, Jacqueline Cako, Hannah James and Nicole Smith for their dedication and performance as ASU student athletes.
"The more you play and the more you play good competition the better you get, there's no question about that," McInerney said.
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#13 Stanford 6 :: #21 Arizona State 1
Whiteman Tennis Center
12:00 p.m. MST
1. Kristie Ahn/Nicole Gibbs (STAN) def. Nicole Smith/Jacqueline Cako (ASU) 8-3
2. Stacey Tan/Ellen Tsay (STAN) def. Joanna Smith/Ebony Panoho (ASU) 8-3
3. Natalie Dillon/Krista Hardebeck (STAN) def. Leighann Sahagun/Desirae Krawczyk (ASU) 7-4
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3
1. Nicole Gibbs (STAN) def. Jacqueline Cako (ASU 6-4, 7-5
2. Kristie Ahn (STAN) def. Desirae Krawczyk (ASU) 6-0, 6-0
3. Krista Hardebeck (STAN) def. Leighann Sahagun (ASU) 6-4, 7-5
4. Stacey Tan (STAN) def. Hannah James (ASU) 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
5. Ellen Tsay (STAN) def. Joanna Smith (ASU) 6-1, 6-1
6. Ebony Panoho (ASU) def. Natalie Dillon (STAN) 6-2, 3-6, 6-4
Order of Finish: 5, 2, 3*, 6, 1, 4