DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 15 Duke women's tennis team faced a stiff challenge from No. 24 Tennessee on Saturday at Ambler Tennis Stadium, but held serve on its home court to win 4-1 and advance to the NCAA Team Championship Round of 16. Duke (22-5) got the clinching point from sophomore Kaitlyn McCarthy on court three with a 7-5, 6-1 victory.
With the win, the Blue Devils finished the year 14-0 at home, tied with the 2012 squad for the most home victories in a year in program history. The triumph also gave Duke its sixth NCAA Team Championship Round of 16 appearance since 2010.
Individually, McCarthy's win pushed her streak to 21 consecutive matches. The last Blue Devil with at least 21 consecutive dual match victories was Rachel Kahan with 30 straight from September 18, 2010 – May 22, 2011. McCarthy has not lost since dropping a 7-5, 6-4 decision to No. 34 Caroline Brinson of Georgia during the opening round of the ITA Team Indoor Championship on February 13. McCarthy and freshman Meible Chi were multiple winners for the Blue Devils on Saturday, recording a doubles win together and each netting a singles triumph.
On Saturday, Duke was able to take an early 1-0 lead with the doubles point by winning on courts one and two. The Blue Devils ran away with the decision on the top court as the No. 42 pair of Chi and McCarthy topped No. 71 Brittany Lindl and Eve Repic 6-1. The Blue Devil duo led 3-0 before Tennessee got a game. Duke replied with the last three contests. Chi and McCarthy are now 14-7 overall.
Duke capped the point on court two, where seniors Alyssa Smith and Chalena Scholl defeated Sadie Hammond and Gabby Schuck 7-6 (3). With the set even at 3-3, the Lady Vols held and broke to go up 5-3, but Duke returned the favor with a break and hold to even the set at 5-5. Both teams held on their final service games to push the set to the tiebreaker. Tennessee took a 1-0 advantage in the tiebreaker, but the Blue Devils answered with the five consecutive points to take control. Tennessee cut the deficit to two points at 5-3, but Duke tallied the last two for the victory. Smith and Scholl up their mark to 17-9. The win also bumps Scholl's career NCAA Team Championship doubles record to 6-2.
In singles, Tennessee (19-12) evened the match at 1-1 overall as Ariadna Riley downed Smith 6-3, 6-1 on court four. In the opening set, Smith trailed 2-0 before knotting it at 3-3. From there, Riley won the final three games of the set and the first five of the second en route to the victory. Smith dips to 18-17.
The Blue Devils quickly regained the lead at 2-1 as No. 43 Chi defeated No. 42 Lindl 6-1, 6-2 on court one. Chi, who leads Duke with nine wins against ranked individuals, dropped the first game of the opening set before rolling off eight consecutive contests to capture the initial set and lead 2-0 in the second. Lindl broke the string and had the second set down to a one-game deficit at 2-1 and 3-2, but Chi finished, improving to 32-14. The 32 victories are tied for the fourth most by a freshman in a year in Duke history.
“Meible played well,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “That was the best match she has played in a long time. She struggled a little bit at the end of the year, but she has kept working really hard. She hasn't let her results impact her work ethic. It was good for her today.”
“Today everybody stepped up and I was happy seeing that,” Chi said. “I feel like I've been practicing really well recently and I knew that now is the time to really step up. I believed I could do it. I have a team around me who believes that we can all do it.”
Duke tacked on a third point for a 3-1 advantage on court five as sophomore Ellyse Hamlin slid past Johanna Silva 6-2, 6-4. The opening set had Hamlin turn a 1-1 tie into a 5-1 lead. Silva got a game back, but Hamlin closed out for the win. The second set was even at 2-2 before Hamlin took a 4-2 advantage. Silva answered and knotted the set at 4-4, but Hamlin captured the last two games for the match. Hamlin lifts her record to 16-7 and is now 2-1 in career NCAA Team Championship singles action.
Clinching the match was No. 99 McCarthy on court three as she defeated Hammond 7-5, 6-2. McCarthy trailed 2-0 in the first set before evening the set at 2-2 and 3-3. McCarthy again fell behind as Hammond inched out to a 5-3 advantage. McCarthy stormed back and won the final four games of the set. McCarthy was tied at 1-1 in the second set and then ran off five-straight games for the win. McCarthy is now 29-5 and 24-1 in dual matches.
“Kaitlyn was down 5-3 in the first set, but it was kind of deceiving because she was up 40-0 in a couple of the games,” Ashworth said. “With the no-ad, a 5-3 set is a point here or there. She knew that. She knew she had her chances. She's playing with a lot of confidence. I don't think the situation of being behind rattled her. She served really well in the second set, which was big.”
Duke will play the winner of the No. 2 North Carolina versus Ole Miss match on Friday at 9 a.m. in Athens, Ga., in the Round of 16.
“We just have to believe in ourselves and trust in ourselves,” Ashworth said. “We have to play fearless. We have to take advantage of the opportunity of being there in the Round of 16. We can't be satisfied by just being there, but we have to take advantage.”
No. 15 Duke 4, No. 24 Tennessee 1
May 13, 2017 at Durham, N.C. (Ambler Tennis Stadium)
1. #42 Kaitlyn McCarthy/Meible Chi (DU) def. #71 Brittany Lindl/Eve Repic (UTW) 6-1
2. Alyssa Smith/Chalena Scholl (DU) def. Sadie Hammond/Gabby Schuck (UTW) 7-6 (7-3)
3. Samantha Harris/Ellyse Hamlin (DU) vs. Ariadna Riley/Johanna Silva (UTW) 6-6 (2-3), unfinished
1. #43 Meible Chi (DU) def. #42 Brittany Lindl (UTW) 6-1, 6-2
2. #55 Chalena Scholl (DU) vs. Eve Repic (UTW) 6-2, 3-6, 4-3, unfinished
3. #99 Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) def. Sadie Hammond (UTW) 7-5, 6-1
4. Ariadna Riley (UTW) def. Alyssa Smith (DU) 6-3, 6-1
5. Ellyse Hamlin (DU) def. Johanna Silva (UTW) 6-2, 6-4
6. Rebecca Smaller (DU) vs. Gabby Schuck (UTW) 1-6, 6-3, 5-1, unfinished
Tennessee Women's Tennis 19-12; National ranking #24
Duke 22-5; National ranking #15
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (4,1,5,3)
NCAA Team Championship Second Round at Duke University
Duke advances to Round of 16