After Courtney Conlogue (USA) officially withdraw from the Women's Rio Pro presented by Billabong last week, first alternate Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) was pegged to step in to her first Women's World Championship Tour (WCT) event.
Weston-Webb has family ties to both Brazil and the US. Born in Porto Alegre, her family immediately migrated back to the states so their daughter would attain dual citizenship. So, as she explained to ASPWorldTour.com, competing in her first WCT event representing Hawaii is all too overwhelming. â€œI can't put it into words,â€ she said.
Entering Rio as the lowest-ranked surfer puts Weston-Webb in a heat with WCT No. 3 Tyler Wright (AUS) and No. 13 Pauline Ado (FRA). This is actually not a bad spot for the young Hawaiian to be in. Weston-Webb eliminated Ado in Round 6 of the last Women's ASP Qualification Series (QS) event, the Port Taranaki Pro in New Zealand. She made it to the Semifinals before losing to Laura Enever (AUS), currently No. 10 in the Women's WCT rankings.
How she will fare against Wright, however, has yet to be seen and the matchup is, at the very least, a more daunting contemplation. The Aussie is on a hot streak, making it to the finals in back-to-back WCT events.
That doesn't necessarily guarantee an early event dismissal for Weston-Webb. Little known fact: In her brief career (she is 18), Weston-Webb has amassed 11 championships. True, they were amateur circuits (the USSF and the NSSA) but she also holds two Pipeline titles, one from 2009 and one from 2012. While this may be her first trip to the elite Tour, she has certainly proven her ability to adapt to high-level, high-pressure competition. It is these accomplishments that have brought her to Rio as a strong underdog threat.
â€œI just did the QS for fun last year and finished runner up and it made me realize that I'm actually capable of being on tour with some of the best female surfers in the world at world class locations.â€
Last minute entries have not fared well on the Tour thus far. Zoe Clarke (AUS), who won the trials for Bells, lost to Carissa Moore (HAW) in Round 2 after her last place finish in Round 1. Laura Macaulay (WA/AUS) was the wildcard surfer for Margaret River and came in second in her Round 1 heat but was eliminated by Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) in the following round. And at Snapper Rocks, Keely Andrew (AUS) was the wildcard and was unable to score above an 8.93 heat total, losing in Round 2 to Fitzgibbons.
Weston-Webb is in the middle of the pack on the Women's QS rankings, putting her above some WCT surfers and below others. Her debut on the Tour is not likely to disappoint, but whether or not she can accomplish what no other last-seed competitor has been able to this year is still anyone's guess.