Ana Maslesa went into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Eastern Regional tournament this past weekend with the same expectation she always has: to win.
Just how bad does she want to win?
After her opponent questionably called one of Maslesa’s returns out of bounds, Maslesa quickly argued the call with her opponent and the presiding official.
“For Ana, the sky is the limit. There is no match Ana goes into thinking that she is going to lose,” Laura Seiverling said while laughing with Lauren Verrall about how confident Maslesa is. Seiverling added that Maslesa has always been confident in herself and that she does not see anyone as unbeatable.
Maslesa was the only Owl representive at the tournament, which matched the best players from each of the teams in the region against each other for a chance to play in the National Indoor Championship. The tournament also allows players to earn a ranking.
Maslesa seemed unfazed by the level of competition she was facing, and said that every player wanted to win. Coach Traci Green said the confidence Maslesa brings will help her when the spring season arrives.
Maslesa, ranked 17th of 32, drew a first round bye. In round two, she faced Marshall’s Ashley Kroh, defeating her in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. Maslesa fell behind 2-0 in the first set before overcoming Kroh’s lead.
“As long as I stay focused, I can come back,” Maslesa said on falling behind early in the first set.
Maslesa went on to a strong second set to win the match. She took high expectations into her first match knowing she had to give 100 percent. Green said if she played the way she was capable of, she would have success.
In the third round, Maslesa lost in straight sets to William & Mary’s Megan Muth, the tournament’s No. 2 seed.
“I’m proud of (Maslesa). She fought and played well against (Muth),” Green said. “We got to see how her game stacks up. The difference in the match was just a few points. She played a really close first set.”
Although only Maslesa played in the tournament, the entire team came to her second round match to show support. Green knew Maslesa would be delighted to play in front of her teammates.
“I am very grateful that they all came,” Maslesa said. “I’m very happy about it. I love them all.”
Seiverling said, “I think she has played really well the whole semester and that she deserves to be coming here.”
Maslesa has had a great season thus far, being the Flight A runner-up in the Hampton Roads Collegiate Invitational in September.
She has shown a lot of progression on coming up to the net and playing more aggressive patterns of play while emerging as the best player on the team.
“She’s stepped up and played in some high tournaments,” Verrall said. “She’s now the No. 1 on our team.”
Maslesa said she and her teammates are grateful for the new coaching staff and attribute their improvements this season to Green and assistant coach Yolanda Duron.
“We are doing some new stuff like fast feet and how to play points,” Maslesa said.
Maslesa has also progressed as a leader this season. Seiverling, the team captain, and Verrall, the only senior, both agreed Maslesa always carries a positive attitude around with her.
“Leadership wise, she has definitely stepped up,” Green said. “A couple of years ago she was quiet. Now she’s more vocal and has stepped into the leadership role of team quite nicely.”
Maslesa will take her usual high expectations into one final tournament, The Lady Seminole Fall Classic, this weekend in Tallahassee, Fla.
John Kopp can be reached at email@example.com.