INDIAN WELLS, CALIF. – Senior Samantha Harris of the Duke women’s tennis team fell just short of the ITA Fall Nationals title, losing to Florida International’s 29th-ranked Andrea Lazaro in a three-set thriller.
Over the last two tournaments, Harris has been one of the best players in the country, winning 11 of her 12 matches. Her run has come against top notch competition, as she beat three of the top 25 players in the country to reach the final and is 7-2 against ranked opponents this fall. Harris is no stranger to playing the best of the best, as she spent the majority of the 2017 spring season in the top singles spot for the Blue Devils.
“The biggest thing for Sam this fall is how she has played the biggest points,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “The more comfortable Sam is in pressure situations, the better she plays. Playing at the top of our lineup last year put her in a ton of those spots. With our schedule the way it is and with the strength of our conference, no matter who we play, teams all have really good players that help bring out the best in us daily.”
Harris’ strong run looked like it was going to continue in the early going against Lazaro. Harris took the lead early in the first set, and although Lazaro came back to tie the set at five games apiece, Harris recovered to win the first set 7-5.
“Sam is one of the hardest workers on the team so these type of results were bound to come,” said assistant coach Matt Manasse. “She makes her opponents work so hard physically and mentally that takes its toll.”
Lazaro bounced back to win the second set 6-3 to force a decisive third set. That tiebreaking set went Lazaro’s way 6-3 as well to end Harris’ run. Overall, she finished as the runner up in the singles main draw as well as a semifinalist in the doubles draw with partner Kelly Chen.
“As a team we have established a motto which is family first and everyone has bought into it, which has helped us all come together as a team and really push each other along,” Harris said. “I think that has really built up some confidence within the team that we can really be successful during the spring. It’s great that we have a number of players doing well, not just one or two, so I think it shows the depth we have.”
Senior Rebecca Smaller, sophomore Meible Chi, and freshman Ema Lazic closed out the Kitty Harrison Invitational on Sunday. Smaller and Chi both won to finish the tournament 2-0 in singles play to go along with a doubles win as a tandem. Smaller beat Virginia’s Lizzie Baker 6-1, 6-2 and Chi beat the Cavaliers’ Teodora Radosavljevic 6-3, 6-3. Lazic dropped a 6-3, 6-4 contest to South Carolina’s 116th-ranked Silvia Chinellato to finish the tournament 1-1. Overall, the Blue Devils went 6-1 in the Kitty Harrison.
“The fall has a whole had been good for us,” said Ashworth. “We had a grand slam doubles winner, a grand slam singles finalist and two grand slam doubles semi-finalists, which are all achievements we are extremely proud of. The biggest thing for us as coaches is that we are in a better place now than we were a year ago. We know for us to have success we have to keep building and keep working hard as we enter this off season phase before starting our season in January. Our team has gotten a taste of what winning big singles matches and big doubles matches can be like, and now we have to translate that into dual match play.”
Duke will return to action in their spring season starting on Jan. 17 when they take the Hills Family Trip to the Rainbow Invitational in Honolulu, HI.
ITA Fall Nationals Results
Round of 64
#54 Samantha Harris (Duke) def. Anna Bright (California) 6-0, 6-0
#57 Kaitlyn McCarthy (Duke) def. Linda Huang (Colorado) 6-0, 6-1
Michaela Gordon (Stanford) def. Kelly Chen (Duke) 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
Round of 16
#54 Samantha Harris (Duke) def. Julia O’Loughlin (Denver) 6-4, 6-4
#54 Samantha Harris (Duke) def. #3 Ashley Lahey (Pepperdine) 6-3, 6-3
#54 Samantha Harris (Duke) def. #24 Bianca Turati (Texas) 6-4, 6-3
#29 Andrea Lazaro (Florida International) def. #54 Samantha Harris (Duke) 5-7, 6-3, 6-3
Consolation Round of 32
Kelly Chen (Duke) def. #47 Christina Rosca (Vanderbilt) 7-5, 6-1
Consolation Round of 16
Kelly Chen def. #60 Taylor Russo (Auburn) 6-4, 6-4
#38 Gabriela Knutson (Syracuse) def. Kelly Chen (Duke) 6-4, 6-4
Round of 32
Mariana Gould/Katarina Jokic (Georgia) def. #25 Kaitlyn McCarthy/Ellyse Hamlin (Duke) 3-6, 6-1, 1-0 (10-8)
#60 Samantha Harris/Kelly Chen (Duke) def. Erin Larner/Madeline Lipp (Northwestern) 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (10-7)
Kitty Harrison Results
Round 1 #20 Meible Chi (Duke) def. Gabby O’Gorman (Penn State) 4-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-7)
Rebecca Smaller (Duke) def. Maria Homez (East Carolina) 6-2, 6-3
Ema Lazic (Duke) def. Meghan King (Kansas State) 6-0, 6-1
#20 Meible Chi (Duke) def. Teodora Radosavljevic (Virginia) 6-3, 6-3
Rebecca Smaller (Duke) def. Lizzie Baker (Virginia) 6-1, 6-2
#116 Silvia Chinellato (South Carolina) def. Ema Lazic (Duke) 6-3, 6-4