May 22, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. - Michaela Capannolo and Yuki Chiang of the Pepperdine women's tennis team made their debut today at the NCAA Doubles Championship and looked like seasoned veterans at the national tournament. The #78-ranked pair dispatched #30 Daneika Borthwick and Kerrie Cartwright of Florida State with a brilliant come-from-behind three set victory.
Capannolo (Melbourne, Australia/Genazzano FCJ College) and Chiang (Ojai, Calif./Campbell Hall HS) were awarded with the West Coast Conference's automatic bid into the 32-team draw by virtue of being the highest ranked pair in the league. Ranking in at #78, by far the lowest ranking of anyone in the 32-team draw, the Wave pair entered the tournament as underdogs.
First up was the top-30 Seminole pair, who entered the match with a 15-9 overall record including a 13-5 mark while holding down the No. 1 spot in the FSU lineup.
Capannolo and Chiang, boasted a 16-7 record heading into today, but had limited experience going up against ranked opposition. Prior to today, the Waves' No. 2 duo had only earned one win in five tries against a team listed in the ITA Top-75.
Despite the less than favorable odds, the Pepperdine pair stepped foot on the court with confidence.
"I don't think they felt like underdogs," said head coach Gualberto Escudero. "They had a practice match against Vanderbilt yesterday. Each team won a set. I think that gave Michaela and Yuki the belief that they can play with anyone here."
Borthwick and Cartwright, behind a strong volley game, won the first set 6-1 and took a 4-1 lead into the second.
"Even when they were down in the match, their attitude was never down," complimented Escudero. "Doubles is a game of movement and togetherness and that helped a lot, just having a great attitude."
The momentum started to roll in Capannolo and Chiang's favor when they got the break of serve back and knotted the score at 4-4. The Waves held on to win the frame 6-4 and send the match to a final set.
After a few back-and-forth games, Pepperdine once again was able to break Florida State's serve to take a resounding 5-2 lead. FSU had no response and bowed out 6-2.
"They just kept going forward, forward, forward," continued Escudero. "The team making the comeback had all the momentum in this match."
The challenges continue tomorrow in the round of 16. Capannolo and Chiang will face #5 Beatrice Capra and Hanna Mar of Duke at 11:30 a.m. PT.