Steffi and Sacha McDonald shine for Victoria

WIMMERA tennis stars Steffi and Sacha McDonald helped carry Victoria to a third-place playoff at the Foundation Cup Interstate Challenge in Melbourne yesterday.

The pair was part of the four-girl Victorian under-13 team at the week-long tournament, which started on Monday.

Playing at number three and four respectively, they played alongside each other in the doubles and also played singles rubbers against other state teams at Royal South Yarra Lawn Tennis Club.

Victoria was facing South Australia in the third-place playoff match with scores tied at two sets apiece when the Mail-Times on Thursday night.

Steffi won her singles rubber 6-3, 6-3, and the Wimmera pair won its doubles rubber in a tie-break. Sacha was yet to play her singles rubber.

Victoria almost made it to the first-place playoff after some tight results in the round-robin stage.

The team had a poor start on Monday with a 4-8-51 to 2-4-43 loss to South Australia.

Steffi and Sacha lost in nail-biting tie-break singles matches to South Australian opponents Kara Tscharke and Sarah Edwards, but got revenge by winning their doubles rubber 8-2.

Sacha said it was a frustrating start for her and her team-mates.

"We played South Australia first and we lost to them, which was a bit

disappointing because we probably should have beaten them," she said. "We played NSW the next day and we also lost to them but they're the top team easily I'd say."

The two losses put Victoria in a

difficult position but the team rebounded against Queensland on Tuesday.

After number one and two Victorians Annaleise Hughes and Olivia Quigley lost their singles rubbers, the Wimmera duo steered the ship with consecutive singles wins.

They then combined to win their doubles rubber 8-2, giving Victoria a thrilling two-game victory over Queensland.

The pair played significant roles in Victoria's final round-robin wins against Western Australia and Tasmania, winning all their singles matches and dropping only one doubles rubber for the tournament.

Despite Victoria's strong finish, the team needed other results to fall its way to make the final.

When Queensland had an easy win over South Australia in the final round, it was eliminated from contention and had to settle for the third-place playoff.

Steffi's mother Cecelia McDonald said both girls had been in good form throughout the tournament.

"They've both played really well and they have definitely combined well in the doubles," she said.

"Steffi has done well because the girl she beat in the singles in the third-place match was the one she lost to on Monday so she's turned that around.

"I think they have won more sets so far than the other two girls on the team, which is a good achievement."

Sacha said she enjoyed playing with Steffi during the tournament.

"We've won all our doubles except for one, which has been good," she said.

"It's easier to play with Steffi because I've played with her before in other tournaments."

Steffi and sister Jess were also the December nominees for the Wimmera Sports Star of the Year award.

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