No. 24 ASU tennis struggled in its first weekend of the 2019 regular season, dropping matches to Wake Forest and Duke.
The mantra of the 2018 ASU tennis season was “a new era.” This year, the team hopes it builds off a landmark season.
In its first season as a varsity program since 2008, ASU looked as if it never went anywhere. The Sun Devils went 14-11 and reached the NCAA Tournament.
Now that the 2019 season is officially underway, it’s all about getting better. For opening weekend, the Sun Devils headed east to North Carolina for matches against Duke and Wake Forest. It didn’t go quite as planned.
Against the Blue Devils, Arizona State got off to a hot start. The Sun Devils took the doubles point and the first two singles point, giving them an early 3-0 advantage.
Shortly after, things changed for worse.
Despite going to three sets in all but two singles matches, Benjamin Hannestad, Dominik Kellovsky, Justin Roberts and Andrea Bolla all lost to their respective opponents, handing Duke the overall 4-3 victory.
A game later, the Sun Devils faced an even taller task — the defending national champions.
Wake Forest, the No. 1 team in the nation, took down Arizona State in Winston-Salem. But the Sun Devils didn’t go down without a fight.
Once again, Arizona State took the doubles point, giving them an early advantage. However, the singles struggles proved too sizable to overcome. Of the six singles matches, five of the Sun Devils lost their first sets, helping Wake Forest get ahead and eventually take the match 5-2.
One of the bright spots for the ASU was Tim Ruehl. A sophomore from Germany, Ruehl helped ASU get the doubles point, and individually, he earned his first-ever ranked win at the collegiate level. He is now 2-0 in singles on the young season.
Before ASU plays its first home match of the season, it heads to the Lone Star State for the ITA Kickoff Weekend. First, the Sun Devils face No. 21 Oklahoma State. Then, they will play the winner or loser of TCU-Loyola Marymount, depending on the first day’s results.