Women's Tennis Wins 2013 WCC Tournament Championship
April 27, 2013
SAN DIEGO – The #63 Pepperdine women’s tennis team has put the finishing touches on perhaps the biggest turnaround the program has ever seen. After starting 2013 with nine-consecutive losses, the Waves have won 12 of the last 14 duals including today’s 4-0 upset victory over #40 Saint Mary’s to win the 2013 West Coast Conference Tournament Championship.
Pepperdine shared the regular-season conference title with the Gaels and Santa Clara after all three squads went 7-1 versus WCC opponents. Although the Waves lost the regular-season meeting versus Saint Mary’s 4-1, Pepperdine made a successful campaign to reclaim the tournament championship today. It is the program’s 23rd West Coast Conference Tournament Championship title , and first since 2011.
And to the victor go the spoils: the automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Waves played with a win or go home mentality, as they likely would not have made the 64-team field had they not won today.
“This was probably the most gratifying win I have ever experienced at the conference championship,” said 36-year head coach Gualberto Escudero. “After this season’s start, the girls didn’t have much confidence. But they kept working hard, and we made it our goal to win the WCC Championship, because we knew it would be the only way to get to the NCAAs.”
The Waves started the dual vs. top-seeded Saint Mary’s with the same doubles lineup as the first meeting, but with a much different outcome. Pepperdine won from the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the rotation to take the early 1-0 lead.
“Doubles has been key,” continued Escudero. “We made some adjustments to our lineup and it’s really been a big reason for the turnaround.”
Securing the doubles point was the No. 2 duo of Ale Granillo (Pachuca, Mexico/Instituto Hidalgo) and Michaela Capannolo (Hawthorn, Australia/Genazzano FCJ College), who chalked an 8-6 decision versus Catherine Isip and Audrey Leitz.
Similar to yesterday vs. the Broncos in the semis, the Waves quickly took a 3-0 lead in singles but had to work to put that dual-clinching fourth point on the board.
Issara continued her senior season of dominance, topping Isip 6-1, 6-1. The senior has not lost since mid-February – all-in-all 17 matches in a row. With a dual season singles record of 20-2 (.909), Issara is likely to ink her name in the program’s winning percentage and overall wins categories. (21 would tie for 10th; current winning percentage ties for fourth)
Granillo topped Flores 6-4, 6-2 to put Pepperdine up 3-0. Both Issara and Granillo conclude the 2013 season with a perfect 9-0 record versus WCC opponents.
Saint Mary’s made the Waves work for the dual clinching point, and held one-set leads on courts four, five and six. In the top match, the aces were tied at one set apiece.
Lorraine Guillermo (Walnut, Calif./Rowland HS) split sets with Jullien, who at #23 is the top-ranked singles player in the conference. The 2012 WCC Freshman of the Year, who fell to Jullien during the regular-season meeting, would get the better of the Gael this time around and won 6-3 in the third set to seal the victory for the Waves.
“I was so happy to see Lorraine clinch the match,” Escudero commented. “She had such a solid start to the season, but has struggled recently. I was pleased to see her finish back on top of her game against a very good player.”
Escudero shared praise for his freshman, Capannolo, as well. Capannolo stopped Santa Clara’s comeback attempt short yesterday in the semifinals, winning 6-4, 7-6 to clinch the team victory.
“Michaela had a particularly bad practice on Thursday, but she found a way to get it done yesterday. It looked as though she was making a comeback today too before they stopped playing,” continued Escudero. “She just keeps fighting and hustling. She’s got a lot of grit and has a very good future here at Pepperdine.”
Saint Mary's College (CA) vs Pepperdine
#62 Pepperdine 4, #40 Saint Mary's College (CA) 0