LUBBOCK, Texas – Senior Mary Clayton and junior Hanna Mar clinched the crucial doubles point before cruising in their respective singles matches to lead the 15th-ranked Duke women’s tennis team past No. 37 Ole Miss, 4-1, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, hosted by Texas Tech at the McLeod Tennis Center. The Blue Devils are now a perfect 18-0 in first round matches, dating back to when the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1996.
“I’m really happy with how we came out and got off to a good start in doubles,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “After the ACC Tournament, we knew it wasn’t anything with our stroke. We just had to believe and somehow find a way. We worked really hard, and they really believe in each other. They don’t want this season to come to an end, and they’re going to fight and fight and compete, and we were able to do that today.”
In doubles action, the tandem of junior Marianne Jodoin and sophomore Annie Mulholland traded games early with the 40th-ranked duo of Caroline Rohde-Moe and Marija Milutinovic on court two, but grabbed the edge when the Blue Devils broke serve to take a 4-3 lead. After Mulholland held serve, Duke went up another break to take a commanding 6-3 lead, but Ole Miss responded by winning consecutive games. Mulholland fended off two break points to give the duo a 7-5 lead, then closed out the match when she unleashed a ferocious cross-court forehand to take the match, 8-5.
In the top spot, Mar and Clayton opened the match by breaking serve against Erin Stephens and Iris Verboven, before trading games to hold a 6-5 lead. After Mar was unable to hold serve, the Ole Miss tandem capitalized by holding serve themselves, giving the Rebels a 7-6 lead. Despite trailing, the Duke tandem conceded only a few more points in the match as Clayton launched a number of perfectly placed serves to level the match at 7-7, before Mar showed some outstanding play at the net to help close out the match and clinch the doubles point, 9-7.
“We got up after the change over and just had that refuse to lose mentality,” Clayton said. “That really pushed us forward and made us work hard. We need to keep having that mentality we did today. We came to the tournament with expectations ourselves, and it’s really nice to prove to ourselves and others that we are still in this tournament.”
In singles play, Ole Miss responded to losing the doubles point by jumping out to leads on four of the five singles courts. On court two, Clayton cruised in the first set, 6-2, against Julia Jones and continued her dominant play in the second set, overwhelming Jones, 6-2, 6-3. The Duke Tennis Hall of Fame Inductee and All-ACC honoree has now claimed 110 career singles victories, the 14th most in Duke program history.
After a heartbreaking loss against Virginia Tech April 25, Jodoin returned to the courts to claim her team-leading 29th singles victory of the season as she topped No. 125 Mai El Kamash, 6-3, 6-1. In the opening set, Jodoin and El Kamash traded games early to find the match level at 3-3, but the Varennes, Quebec native responded by breaking serve twice to close out the set, 6-3. With the win, Jodoin now owns an impressive 17-1 singles record in dual matches on the season.
In the top-spot, Mar fell behind 1-2 early in the match against 45th-ranked Rohde-Moe, but fought back to even it up at 4-4 in the first set. After holding serve, the two-time All-ACC selection hit a huge forehand down the line to take the set, 6-4. Mar carried that momentum into the second set, where she easily dispatched Rohde-Moe, 6-1, to clinch an emotional victory for the Blue Devils.
“Obviously with our back to the wall, we know that there is no tomorrow,” Ashworth said. “We have to leave everything on the court today, and not worry about tomorrow and I thought that we did that. We played with energy, we played with emotion. Whoever we end up playing tomorrow, we need to find that same energy and emotion.”
In the third position, Mulholland dropped the first set, 6-3, against Stephens, but responded in the second set by jumping out to a 3-0 lead. Mulholland held a 3-2 advantage in the second set when the match was clinched. Senior Nicole Lipp fell behind 1-4 in her match against Milutinovic on court five, but rallied by winning the next game. Despite the comeback, Milutinovic held a 6-2, 5-2 advantage when the match was decided.
The Blue Devils are slated to return to the courts Sunday at 1 p.m. CT to face the winner of the match between Texas Tech and the College of Charleston for the opportunity to earn a trip to the Round of 16. For live updates, visit Duke Matchday Central on GoDuke.com or follow along on Twitter (@Duke_WTEN).
NCAA Tennis Championships
#15 Duke 4, #37 Ole Miss 1
May 11, 2013 at Lubbock, Texas
(McLeod Tennis Center)
1. #29 Hanna Mar (DUKE) def. #45 Caroline Rohde-Moe (OM) 6-4, 6-1
2. #56 Mary Clayton (DUKE) def. Julia Jones (OM) 6-2, 6-3
3. #106 Annie Mulholland (DUKE) vs. Erin Stephens (OM) 3-6, 3-2, unfinished
4. Marianne Jodoin (DUKE) def. #125 Mai El Kamash (OM) 6-3, 6-1
5. Nicole Lipp (DUKE) vs. Marija Milutinovic (OM) 2-6, 2-5, unfinished
6. Iris Verboven (OM) def. No player (DUKE), by forfeit
1. Mary Clayton/Hanna Mar (DUKE) def. Erin Stephens/Iris Verboven (OM) 9-7
2. Marianne Jodoin/Annie Mulholland (DUKE) def. #40 Caroline Rohde-Moe/Marija Milutinovic(OM) 8-5
3. Julia Jones/Allie Robbins (OM) def. No player/No player (DUKE), by forfeit
Ole Miss 16-14; National ranking #37
Duke 15-9; National ranking #15
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (6,2,4,1)
Duke Advances to the Second Round