DU women’s tennis has spent tons of time in practice learning to be one thing: aggressive. And they know that’s what they’ll have to be if they expect to take down three Power Five teams from the Pac-12 in the coming days.
“Stay inside the blue” is a phrase you hear a lot at practice. Redirect your shots quickly, don’t let your rival know what hit them.
“It’s moving forward on everything, returning and coming in, serving and volleying coming in,” head coach Christian Bass said, after the #42 Pioneers upset #39 Utah 4-0 at Denver Tennis Park to win their fifth-straight (and play their first match outdoors at DTP). “Were doing formations, one ball and coming in, so we’re putting pressure on our opponents, not giving them the first high ball to be able to do something with”
The Pios (13-3, 3-0) captured the doubles point and fought hard in singles to get the sweep over Utah (11-6, 2-3). Bass says she knew doubles was going to be a battle, calling Utah very solid at poaching (where one player intercepts a return shot meant for their teammate in order to catch their rivals off-guard)
“They hit some very big first serves, and they were able to do a lot on their service game, and I thought we did a pretty good job moving forward off of returns and limiting the poaching,” Bass said.
In singles sophomore Camille Verden-Anderson again won first, crushing Whitney Hekking 6-0, 6-1 in the #5 spot. Team co-captain and #92 nationally Bianca Mok then took down her friend and familiar opponent Brianna Chisholm 7-5, 6-1 in the #1 singles position.
Mok’s fellow captain Arisha Ladhani struggled early, going down 4-1 at one point before regaining her composure to win the set 7-5 (that match was abandoned after claimed the fourth point). “When I was down 5-2, I was like I’m just going to go back to the basics, focus on my strengths, once I got that [set] to go 5-3 I was like let’s take this all the way,” she said after DU wrapped things up.
Utah was just the first step in a tough week for the team. They’ll travel to play the University of Arizona in Tucson Saturday before heading up the freeway to Phoenix Sunday to take on #44 Arizona State.