The ASU tennis team found itself in uncharted waters Saturday as the Sun Devils (7-1) were down early.
Despite losing the doubles point for the first time all season, ASU knocked off Pepperdine (0-7) 5-2.
The match did not start off the way ASU coach Sheila McInerney would have liked.
“We didn’t play very well in the doubles at all,” McInerney said. “(Senior) Nikki (Smith) and (senior) Jacq (Cako) got off to a really terrible start down 6-1. … (Sophomore) Jo (Smith) and (freshman) Ebony (Panoho) were up 5-3, had a couple chances to be up 6-3 but didn’t.”
The lone victory in doubles came from the team of sophomore Leighann Sahagun and freshman Desirae Krwczyk, which won its match 8-3.
Seniors Jacqueline Cako and Nicole Smith were matched against the No. 8 doubles team of redshirt senior Khunpak Issarra and sophomore Lorraine Guillermo.
Cako and Smith were down big early but rallied back. Down 6-1, Cako and Smith clawed back to get within one game of a tie at 7-6 before Guillermo and Issarra put the match away 8-6.
While Cako started out rough in her doubles match, she started to get back to her All-american form as the match progressed.
By the time her singles match rolled around, Cako was dialed in.
“The more I played, I just got more comfortable, and it felt like I was hitting it really well by the end (of doubles),” Cako said. “It helps coming out for the singles, then I can just step up and stay super aggressive.”
Cako’s win Saturday put her back on the winning track after losing her last match to No. 25 Santa Clara junior Katie Le.
“I had a great week of practice, really worked on my forehand and just kind of got everything to click a little bit, Cako said. “I just feel better about my game.”
Cako beat Guillermo in straight sets 6-2, 6-1, as did senior Hannah James (6-1, 6-3) and sophomore Joanna Smith (6-0, 6-1) in their respective matches.
While Cako, James and Smith all won their matches rather handily, freshman Stephanie Vlad’s match wouldn’t come so easily.
After winning the first set handily 6-1, Vlad dropped the second set 3-6, forcing a third set with a chance to put the match away for the Sun Devils.
“I was frustrated after I had lost the second set, but (assistant coach) Clint (Letcher) told me just to stay calm and start out strong,” Vlad said. “I felt like I came out with a good lead in the third and then I tried to keep the lead and not let it get close.”
It never got close as Vlad closed out the final set 6-1 and sealed the match both for herself and ASU.
McInerney was happy with her team’s performance, especially having to come back from an early deficit.
“I think it was good today,” McInerney said. “Obviously, since we came out with a win, it was good for our kids to have a little bit of adversity (after) losing the doubles point.”
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1.)Guillermo/Issarra def. Cako/N. Smith: 8-6
2.)Michaela Capannolo/Ale Granillo def. J. Smith/Panoho: 8-5
3.)Leighann Sahagun/Desirae Krawczyk def. Megan Moore/Tara Panu: 8-3
1.)Cako def. Guillermo: 6-2, 6-1
2.)Issarra def. Sahagun: 7-5, 6-2
3.)Krawczyk def. Granillo: 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 (6)
4.)Vlad def. Capannolo: 6-1, 3-6, 6-1
5.)James def. Moore: 6-1, 6-3
6.)J. Smith def. Danielle Feneridis: 6-0, 6-1