|Season Comes to a Close|
MALIBU, Calif—Friday the 13th was not kind to the Idaho Vandals. The 2016 Big Sky champions saw its season come to an end with a 4-0 loss to No. 8 Pepperdine at Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center.
“Pepperdine is a very good team,” head coach Mariana Cobra said following the match. “They played smart and fair. We got outplayed in doubles, which did not happened very often this season. We were forced to try come from behind, which is always tough against a good team like them.”
Doubles play proved to be a huge challenge for the Vandals to start the day. The eighth seeded Waves' lineup featured two of the top-30 doubles pairings in the country. Maria Tavares and Celine Koets paired up against the 19th ranked team in the country, Christine Maddox and Matea Cutura, in No. 2 play. The Pepperdine duo took the first match of the day, 6-1. Pepperdine’s Luisa Stefani and Apichaya Runglerdkriangkrai, the 26th ranked pairing, defeated Ana Batiri and Belen Barcenilla 6-2 to claim the point.
Pepperdine (22-2) carried its momentum from doubles into singles. The Waves swept the first three points. Michaela Capannolo claimed Pepperdine’s first singles-point with a 6-1, 6-0 defeat of Claire Yang on the No. 6 court. Dzina Milovanovic gave Pepperdine the 3-0 advantage with her 6-2, 6-2 win over Batiri. Freshman Marianna Petrei battled with Luisa Stafani, the sixth ranked player in the country. Petrei had early success, getting out to a 2-1 lead in the first set. Stafani climbed back two win the match in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2.
“We had our chances in singles,” Cobra explained. “It just goes to show how good we really are. Not many teams are able hang with a top-10 team like we did today.”
The Vandals close the season with a 19-9 record after advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season. The Silver and Gold have now hit 19 wins in three of the last five season.
“Obviously, the highlight of the year was winning the Big Sky,” Cobra noted. “I explained to the team that this last match does not define us. We can use this for next year. Our younger players were able to have this experience and next year we can build off of it. This is just the start.”
Petrei, the 2016 Big Sky MVP, finished the season with a 22-3 record. Her .885 winning percentage ranks first in school-history, breaking the old mark of .862 set by Mary Pat Wheeler in 1979. Petrei and Lucia Badillos tied Idaho’s top doubles winning percentage. The pair finished 14-1 (.933), matching the mark set by Sunel Nieuwoudt and Jessica Hubbard in 2005.
The Vandals return a solid core group of players in 2017. Petrei and Tavares headline Idaho's five returners that will help lead Idaho in its quest for a fourth consecutive trip the NCAA Tournament.
Fans can stay up-to-date on all things Idaho women’s tennis by following the team on Twitter @IdahoWTennis.