ROME, Ga. - The duo of Kate Daugherty and Esther Bowers defeated the No. 2 doubles team in the nation, Emily Chen and Maryann Zhao of Pomona-Pitzer, in straight sets to place third overall in the doubles division of the Oracle Cup on Saturday afternoon at the Rome Tennis Courts. Daugherty and Bowers earned All-America honors after their run.
Formerly known as the Small College Nationals, the ITA Oracle Cup has history dating back to 1986, and it is the only singles and doubles national championship event for the Division II and NAIA levels. This year, more than 8,000 players took part in a total of 60 regional tournaments to gain entry into the ITA Oracle Cup field.
Early in the match, Daugherty and Bowers raced out to a 4-1 lead in set one, breaking set twice against the second-ranked squad. Chen and Zhao charged back to even the set at four, but Daugherty and Bowers finished the set off with two straight games, leading 1-0 after a 6-4 win.
It was a back-and-forth affair in the second set, as netiher team was able to distance themselves, eventually sitting in a tie at 5-5. Again, Daugherty and Bowers found a way again, using a strong finish and winning the final two sets for a 7-5 win to sweep Chen and Zhao in straight sets.
"Exceptional tennis from the first to last point by both teams," said Head Coach Bill Porter. "Esther and Kate continued to stay calm and collected as it was super tight in every game. Kate's patience and Esther's forehand were the key to us winning and being able to call ourselves the best in the west"
In singles action, Daugherty competed in the 5th place match against Briana Hartmann of Gustavus Adolphus, falling in a hard fought three-set match, 6-4, 4-6, 5-7. Daugherty won the final two games in the first set, but fell just short in the next two sets.
"Disappointing way to lose as we both felt good about the gameplan we had put together and saw it work throughout the match," said Porter. "Too many errors out of neutral position added up and unfortunately was the difference."
After an outstanding weekend for the pair of freshmen, the duo, along with the entire Pirates tennis team, will move into their offseason and prepare for the upcoming spring season in February. They will open at ATA on the 2nd against St. Edwards at 6 PM.
"Being at this prestigious event was a program first and came in with the attitude of just being happy to be here," added Porter "For two freshmen to upset two seeds along the way makes me that much more proud of them"