With two victories during the NCAA doubles tournament, Gabriella Duch and Neyssa Etienne became the first All-Americans at USF since 1984. However, the ninth-ranked duo saw its season come to an end after dropping a match to North Carolina’s No. 6 team of Sara Anundsen and Jenna Long 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday.
Etienne and Duch finished their season with a 16-5 record. Their two tournament victories came against teams that previously had beaten them during the regular season. The Bulls advanced with a first-round victory over Pepperdine’s Merve Asimgil and Sylvia Kosakowski, 7-6, 6-1. In the second round, they avenged a loss to Kentucky’s Kim Coventry and Carolina Escamilla with a 6-1, 6-0 win.
“They played great the entire year and just stuck to their game. I was glad to have them get their win during the tournament,” coach Agustin Moreno said. “I think in the second round that they played their best match of the whole year. They were in both of the (regular-season) matches, but this time they put it all together and came out on top.”
With their selection to the All-American team, Etienne and Duch became the first USF doubles pairing to do so. Laura Garcia was named an All-American in 1984 as a singles player.
Etienne was especially proud of the accomplishment during her final collegiate tournament.
“It was great to be selected. I was honored when I found out,” Etienne said. “I’m thrilled with the results of our season but wish that we could have gone further in the tournament.”
Duch agreed but was disappointed that it was the last time she and Etienne will play together.
“I didn’t even know about (being named an All-American) until after the match against Kentucky. It was great to win an award and all the prestige that comes with that,” Duch said. “I’m so excited that I could win (All-American honors) with (Etienne). It’s nice to be at the point where others recognize your hard work.”
Moreno was pleased with his team’s accomplishments this season and hopes USF can carry its momentum into next season.
“We had a great season. Courtney (Vernon) had an unbelievable year,” Moreno said. “To have two All-Americans on your team is just a huge boost for our program.”