Callie Smith and Lucy Kovalova competing at The Masters on Friday.

Smith, Kovalova battle back to clinch semifinal berth

PALM SPRINGS, CA - Sometimes, you have to lose before you can win.

That’s a truth that Callie Smith and Lucy Kovalova experienced to the fullest extent Friday afternoon in their women’s doubles quarterfinal match.

The No. 2 seeds dropped the first game to the No. 10 seeds Tina Pisnik and Jorja Johnson 3-11, initially not being able to handle the relentless offensive capabilities of their opponents.

Smith and Kovalova rebounded to take Game 2 11-7, relying on their familiarity with each other and the experience that comes with earning 17 pro medals together.

“It’s nice to have that background where you can know what your partner is going for—who’s going for what, where the other person is speeding up, and all that,” Smith explained. “It’s great to have that friendship on the court.”

Despite capturing Game 2, the pair found themselves again facing a deficit in the deciding game.

But a strategic move when switching sides trailing 1-6 proved to be the difference-maker for the tandem.

“Normally, Lucy and I stack with me on the left and her on the right,” said Smith. “We mixed it up a little bit in Game 3 when we got stuck on points. We’re not normally known to do that.”

Taking advantage of the different patterns that came as a result of this tactical change, Smith and Kovalova slowly clawed their way back into that deciding game before eventually emerging victorious, 11-9.

Up next for the No. 2 seeds is a match against No. 3 seeds Anna Bright and Rachel Rohrabacher in the semifinals on Saturday.