116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Sports / Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State advances to first-ever NCAA women’s tennis quarterfinals: ‘We’d might as well make a run at the whole darn thing’
Cyclones beat UCLA for the second time this season in Friday’s Super Regionals
AMES — First he whispered, then he roared.
Iowa State women’s tennis coach Boomer Saia pumped his fists and let out a subdued “Yes,” after his 12th-ranked Cyclones clinched their first NCAA Super Regionals win Friday over No. 20 UCLA at the Ames High School Tennis Complex.
His voice — along with the 200 or so fans in attendance — crescendoed from that moment on.
“It was probably like a prehistoric roar,” Saia said after watching senior Sofia Cabezas win in straight sets to give ISU the 4-1 victory. “I wasn’t even relieved. I was so excited to beat an historically amazing program like UCLA two times in a season. That just speaks to our kids’ character. There were a lot of matches that could have gone either way.”
The Cyclones (21-5) advanced to Wednesday’s quarterfinals in Orlando, Fla., where they’ll play the winner of Saturday’s match between North Carolina State and Auburn.
ISU started the day off strong by securing the doubles point — a feat the Cyclones failed to achieve when they narrowly beat the Bruins, 4-3, in their first-ever meeting in the regular season.
“We were hungry and we talked about that,” said Saia, who has led ISU to all three of its NCAA Tournament appearances. “How our mindset needs to be right going into that doubles (round) and we came out ready to go.”
Cabezas, a native of Valencia, Venezuela, teamed with Miska Kadleckova to win the decisive doubles match, 6-2. Both joined their teammates to surprise Saia with a welcomed ice bath as he talked to reporters after the triumph.
“He’s like family,” said Cabezas, the only South American on a team filled with players from Asia and Europe. “He treats us like family and it was just awesome that we could accomplish this for him, too.”
⧉ Related article: Global organization has brought winning climate to Iowa State women’s tennis
Moments before Cabezas cemented the win, teammate Thasaporn Naklo joined Ange Oby Kajuru in winning her singles match in straight sets. Cabezas then held off Sasha Vagramov, 7-5, to win the the second and decisive set — raising loud cheers of both the prehistoric and historic variety from the crowd.
“It’s another step forward,” said Saia, who was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year for the second time in the past three seasons. “Wow, going to the Sweet 16, we’ve never been, and now to the Elite Eight. We’d might as well make a run at the whole darn thing.”
He didn’t whisper that now-realistic goal. Saia spoke confidently and smiled, eager to keep making history at any volume until such results are expected, not considered outlandish for a formerly-forlorn Cyclones program.
“I know we can beat anyone in the country,” Cabezas said. “I’m sure of that.”