Cate Doubles Team Continues Remarkable Run in CIF Individuals

Carol Cai, Grace Fuss at CIF Individuals

Cate seniors Grace Fuss and Carol Cai needed just 45 minutes to dispatch their Edison High School opponents in the play-in round of CIF Sectionals down in Seal Beach yesterday afternoon.

The Cate duo was untouchable in their 6-1, 6-0 victory over Zoe Coggins and Kailee You. Coggins is a nationally-ranked senior who has already been signed by D2 Dominican University of San Rafael, California. Her partner is also a nationally-ranked player, making the overwhelming victory all the more impressive.

The victory follows a bye and two straight-set wins for Cai and Fuss in the CIF Regional event, held last week in Carpinteria. The Cate team had been seeded third in that draw and received the Santa Barbara Round Table press luncheon’s “Athlete of the Week” award for their play in the tournament.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

Carol has been here before and won in this round (two years ago with her sister Jackie), but to be honest, I’ve never seen either Carol or Grace play so freely on the doubles court. The word is devastating; they were absolutely devastating. You could see the morale of their opponents dropping with every big serve from Grace and every down-the-line forehand winner from Carol. They were also finishing points at net and made very few unforced errors.

What’s important is they didn’t do anything beyond what I’ve known they’re capable of, but it’s more that they put it all together at once and carried that momentum from first point to last. My girls played with confidence and poise today, and if that’s any indication of the future, they are far from done in this CIF Individuals tournament. While the majority of the players remaining in this tournament are either signed or receiving interest from D1 collegiate programs, no team is safe in this draw with the Cate girls still in play.

What’s Next for the Cate Girls?!

The Cate pair will return to Seal Beach Tennis Center on Thursday at 10:30am for the Round-of-16.

Cai Sisters Give #2 Seeds a Scare, but Fall in CIF Round-of-16

52F047DF-0D5E-4126-B75C-0B75D439B55A.jpegJackie and Carol Cai were unable to continue their fairy-tale run in CIF Individuals play today. Despite coming up short, it was all smiles for the sisters, as they pushed their more experienced opponents and proved beyond doubt that they are one of the best doubles teams in the strongest high school section in the country.

The Cate duo faced tournament #2-seed Emily Ackerman (senior) and Chloe Bendetti (junior) from Oaks Christian. Bendetti was no stranger to the big show, having reached the finals of last year’s tournament, and Ackerman will play for Cal Poly SLO next year, an NCAA D1 program. Both players are ranked in the top 150 players in the country for their classes.

Experience was on display, as the Oaks Christian team jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first set. Serves to the corners and crisp volleys punctuated nearly every point and to the casual viewer, the match may have appeared like a formality.

Unfazed, Cai and Cai battled back by winning the next four games and had some opportunities to draw even in the tenth game before a missed poach ended the set.

The surprise was palpable on the faces of the Oaks Christian coaches and fans sitting courtside and frustrations became visible on-court as well. “These Cate girls are here to play” was the obvious signal.

After dropping the first set 4-6, the sisters jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second, with a quick break of Ackerman’s serve and a textbook hold of Carol’s serve. Bendetti held a tough service game with a clutch corner ace to stem the bleeding and again the momentum shifted.

The Oaks Christian pairing hit a hot streak and rattled off four straight games to regain control of the match, as the Cai’s had a dip in energy. The final few games were fairly evenly contested, but the second set went to Oaks Christian 6-3.

While this was the last stand for Jackie Cai, a senior, Carol will have two more opportunities to improve upon this year’s performance. As has been the case in recent years, every season at Cate has brought a new level of success, and with returning players like Carol and the knowledge passed down by outgoing players like Jackie, the team looks primed for another great season in 2018!