HONOLULU, Hawaii - The third-ranked women's tennis team is set to open its spring season as they kick off the Hawaii Invitational Jan. 9-10 at the University of Hawaii. The Blue Devils garnered a No. 3 ranking in the first Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll of the year last week after concluding both the 2011 and 2012 seasons in the same position. The Hawaii Invitational will only include the Blue Devils and No. 54 Hawaii, but will give both teams an opportunity to compete one final time before opening up their dual-match schedules.
"We are excited about building on (where we left off last season)," head coach Jamie Ashworth said. "That is something that this group has been talking about since the day after [the semifinal match of the NCAA Tournament] last year. We are excited. We had a good fall and we are excited to get on the courts and kind of see where we are as we start the spring."
The Blue Devils are coming off a successful fall campaign in which they tallied five titles, led by junior Hanna Mar. Mar, a native of Burr Ridge, Ill., finished the fall with a 13-3 record including a 5-2 ledger against nationally ranked opponents. Mar claimed singles titles at the Duke Fab4 Invitational (White Bracket) and the ITA Regional Championship, as well as the doubles title at the ITA Regional Championship with partner Ester Goldfeld. Mar concluded her fall season with a trip to the quarterfinals of the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championship in Flushing, N.Y., and opens the spring season ranked No. 10 in the first ITA Rankings.
In addition to Mar being tabbed as the 10th best player in the country, three other Blue Devils enter the spring season in the top 70 with sophomore Goldfeld coming in at No. 40, senior Mary Clayton listed at No. 53 and sophomore Marianne Jodoin at No. 63.
While Mar earned two wins in the fall, Clayton and Jodoin also claimed victories in the fall at the Kitty Harrison Invitational in the White and Blue Draws, respectively. Clayton, a native of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., owned an 11-5 singles record in the fall giving her 96 career singles wins. With four more wins, Clayton will become one of only 21 Blue Devils to earn membership in the 100-win club.
Jodoin owned a 10-6 record in her first fall in Durham, and enters the Hawaii Invitational on a four-match win streak. The Varennes, Quebec native joined the Blue Devils after two years at Fresno State in which she garnered Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year twice, WAC All-Tournament team in both singles and doubles, as well as WAC Freshman of the Year.
After arriving in Hawaii on Jan. 4, the Blue Devils have spent time practicing while also finding time to enjoy the sights and sounds of Waikiki Beach through paddle boarding, snorkeling and hiking.
"We are fortunate to be able to do this," said Ashworth. "The Hill's family trip that we take every two years is a great building and bonding experience for our team. It gives us time to prepare outside in January. We know we are going to get nice weather, but also the girls get to spend a lot of time away from classes together and just do some different activities whether it is just snorkeling out in the water or team dinners."
The invitational will be the final tune up for the Blue Devils before they open their dual-match slate Jan. 19 when they host William & Mary in Durham, N.C.
For live updates on the tournament, follow the team on twitter (@duke_WTEN).