May 23, 2013
URBANA, Ill. -
Senior Jacqueline Cako earned another win in the 2013 NCAA DI Women's Tennis Singles Championship on Thursday morning, clinching herself a spot in the Sweet 16 and securing her third consecutive All-American honor. Cako defeated Kata Szekely of Tennessee in three sets, 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 and will play against Breaunna Addison of the University of Texas on Friday at 10 a.m.
"I feel great and I'm hitting the ball well so that's all I can really ask for," Jacqueline Cako said.
Cako is just the fourth player in the history of the women's tennis program at Arizona State to earn three consecutive All-American designations in singles. Adria Engel earned her third designation in 2002, Kori Davidson in 1995 and Sheri Norris in 1986. Reka Cseresnyes earned four straight All-American honors in her four years as a student-athlete at ASU.
Like most great players however, the Sun Devil was so focused on the competition in front of her that the designation didn't even cross her mind.
"I'm definitely very happy about it and I really wasn't thinking about it at all until (Assistant Coach) Clint (Letcher) told me right after the match that I'm an All-American again," Cako said. "I'm feeling really good about everything here."
Head Coach Sheila McInerney is able to add Cako to her list of All-Americans under her tenure at Arizona State -- a list that runs over 20 names including upwards of 40 honors.
"I was extremely pleased with her performance as it is sometimes difficult to follow up on a previous performance with a big win. By getting to the Sweet 16 she is an All-American for the third time; something that I'm extremely proud of," Sheila McInerney said.
Cako defeated the top-ranked player in the country, Lauren Embree of the University of Florida, in a major upset yesterday afternoon in just two sets, 6-3, 6-2. Today's second round match against Szekely saw a full three set match on the courts, a set longer than Cako would have liked.
"She started playing a lot better in the second round and I made a few errors which hurt me, but for the most part she played very well. I also got a bit tight, but then she didn't play well at the start of the third set and I just ran with it," Cako said.
The inclement weather has also played a factor in both of Cako's matches so far. In the first round, her match was paused after an outbreak of thunderstorms and moved indoors for competition of the match. Today's weather was much of the same with windy and wet conditions, but Cako admitted that she was thankful her match did not have to be broken up today.
"The wind wasn't too bad today but I'm really happy that I finished before it started raining. I just kept my margins tight and stayed within myself," Cako said.
When paired up for doubles play with senior Nicole Smith, the momentum continued rolling forward for the Sun Devils in Illinois. The pairing of the two seniors, who have competed together all year long and earned a regular season ending ranking of No. 31, defeated Breaunna Addison and Noel Scott of Texas in three sets 6-1, 4-6, 6-2, to move on to the round of 16.
The win was yet another item to cross of the list for Smith, who returned this year after what could have been a career-ending injury in the season prior. The subsequent surgeries made it even tougher on the Canadian born Sun Devil, but through dedication and a large chunk of determination Smith is one step closer to reaching her goal.
"Nikki (Smith) played really well. I'm so happy for her after all she has been through with her knee," McInerney said. "It's quite the accomplishment for her to be here playing tennis after everything she has endured."
Play will continue for both Sun Devils tomorrow, beginning in the morning for Cako in singles play. She will match up against Breaunna Addison of the University of Texas at 10 a.m. CDT -- the same Addison Cako took down in doubles with the help of Nikki Smith.
Doubles play will continue for ASU later that afternoon, in a match that will feature Isaura Enrique and Samantha Vickers of Tulsa on the opposing side of the net from Cako and Smith, in a match scheduled for 3:00 p.m.
Live video and statistics are available at the 2013 NCAA DI Women's Tennis Championship Tournament Central. Stick with thesundevils.com and Like Arizona State Women's Tennis on Facebook for all of the latest information.