Sophomore Sara Castellano reached the semifinals this weekend at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Central Regional Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma, bringing her career record (dating back to last season with McNeese State) to 24-6.
“Sara had a great weekend,” head coach Danielle Steinberg said. “It’s the most focused and controlled I have ever seen her, which is something we talk about a lot. Obviously we are very happy with the results, but more importantly I am so pleased with her attitude and the fact she was able to implement all the things we have been working on the past few months.”
Castellano began play on Friday afternoon with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Nell Boyd of Drake. She continued her success in singles play with a victory over Minnesota’s Paula Rincon-Otero, 6-4, 6-2. These wins set up Castellano for a berth in the round of 16, a mark she achieved last season with McNeese State at the ITA Southern Regional Championships.
Day two of action on Saturday, Castellano defeated Abby Stevens of Wichita State, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, who beat her earlier this season at Oklahoma University’s invitational. This win put her in the quarterfinals.
On Sunday, Castellano started off strong with her fourth consecutive win, blowing past Oklahoma State’s Maria Alvarez 6-1, 6-1 to put her in the semifinals.
Later that day, Castellano was defeated by Vladica Babic of Oklahoma State, 6-2, 6-3, thus ending her chances at a berth in the 2014 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships. She would have had to win the singles title in order to advance to nationals.
Sophomore Palma Juhasz had great success at the tournament as a singles player as well. She ended with a 3-1 record in singles play this weekend.
Juhasz began her tournament with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 comeback win over Iowa’s Morven McCulloch in the first round. She was then defeated in the second round 6-4, 6-2 by Katrina Adamovic of Oklahoma State.
“I am very pleased with Palma,” Steinberg said. “She had a tough draw and in her first match and was down a set very quickly. We work a lot on being aggressive and dictating game style, and she was able to do just that in the second and third set and secured the win. Adamovic of OSU is a tough player and played the big points just a little bigger than us.”
Juhasz’s tournament ended positively on Saturday with two victories in the consolation draw. She came out on top with a 6-0, 7-6 (6) victory over Minnesota’s Tereza Brickacova and a 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over Drake’s Jordan Eggleston.
In doubles, Castellano and Juhasz began with an 8-5 victory over Drake’s doubles team Mariel Ante and Adrienne Jensen. However, the dynamic duo faced their first defeat of the season at 8-4 on Saturday from the Oklahoma State pair of Viktoriya Lushkova and Kelsey Laurente.
Aside from Castellano and Juhasz, the rest of the team will travel to Des Moines, Iowa to compete in the Drake Jamboree next weekend.