Graig Mantle

Brazilian tennis player Ana-Clara Duarte took home first place in the Cal Poly Invitational this weekend, defeating Mustang Brittany Blalock in a tie-breaker set Sunday morning.

The Mustangs ended up playing most of the open tournament Saturday and Sunday amongst themselves as several of their intended opponents were unable to compete.

“It was good to see the team play within the squad and compete against each other,” assistant coach Paige Esparza said. “It shows a lot about our team and how they were able to come out this weekend and play hard against each other.”

Esparza said that several new additions to the team would be key players in the upcoming spring season.

“We are really excited about Whitney Peterson, the transfer,” Esparza said. “She’s a great addition to our team along with Amy Markoff, a good athlete, and Brooke Pletcher, a walk-on.”

Although the team is comprised entirely of freshmen, sophomores and juniors, Esparza is confident that the young team can stand up to competition.

“We are a young team but very disciplined,” Esparza said. “It’s a passionate group of kids that I think will give us our best ranking we’ve ever had here.”

Junior Whitney Peterson had a rough weekend because of illness. She only had the chance to play one match.

She was initially scheduled to play against Esparza in the first round, but Esparza pulled out of the tournament. In the second round, Peterson played against fellow Mustang Shannon Brady and lost 2-1.

Brady moved on to the third round, where she fell to Blalock.

Blalock, seeded No. 2 overall for the tournament, moved into the finals to face No. 1 seed Duarte of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, an independent player who was allowed to compete because it was an open tournament.

Duarte is ranked 46th in the world for juniors and fourth in Brazil.

Duarte defeated Mustangs Amy Markoff, Diana Filip and Steffi Wong to reach the finals.

Duarte and Blalock hit good, clean shots and moved well on the court. They appeared fairly evenly matched and each player was in top form.

In the end, Duarte came out on top, winning 4-6, 6-4 and 7-6. The first two sets were close, Blalock managing to win the first, but Duarte triumphing in the second. The third set was a tie-breaker and Duarte used her experience to overcome Blalock.

Since Peterson is a recent transfer to Cal Poly, she said she has yet to adjust to playing at home but felt that having the tournament here meant other members of her team were able to bring out their best performances.

“I think other players liked it more because they are more comfortable here,” Peterson said.

Peterson said that she is looking forward to a challenging season starting in January.

“I think that’s the great thing about tennis; you get so many opportunities to play great players, no matter what the team is,” Peterson said. “It’s always so much fun to play the top teams like Stanford and UCLA. I’m definitely looking forward to those matches.”

The spring season for the team will begin Jan. 13, when they take on Santa Clara and UC Santa Cruz.

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