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No. 1 Duke Set for First Two ACC Matches of 2014
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 02/20/2014
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Match 8
No. 1 Duke (8-0) vs. No. 13 Virginia (5-2)
Friday, Feb. 21 | 3:30 p.m.
Charlottesville, Va. | Boyd Tinsley Courts at the Boar’s Head Sports Club

Match 9
No. 1 Duke (8-0) vs. Syracuse (0-5)

Saturday, Feb. 23 | 12 p.m.
Durham, N.C. | Ambler Tennis Stadium

Virginia Live Stats | Virginia Live Video | Syracuse Live Stats | Twitter

DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 1 Duke women’s tennis team returns to competition Friday, Feb. 21, traveling to Charlottesville, Va., to face No. 13 Virginia before welcoming Syracuse to Ambler Tennis Stadium in Durham, N.C., Feb. 23. The Blue Devils come off a strong showing at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Team Indoor Championship, winning the second indoor national team title in school history after defeating No. 11 Michigan, 4-2, No. 6 North Carolina, 4-2, No. 4 California, 4-2 and No. 3 UCLA, 4-3. With the win, the Blue Devils catapulted themselves into the No. 1 national ranking.

All regular season Duke women’s tennis home events at Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center and Ambler Tennis Stadium are free to the public. General public parking is available in the Blue Zone parking lot off of Duke University Road.

Virginia Series History
The Blue Devils lead the series against the Cavaliers, 56-4. The two teams last met March 19, 2013, with the Blue Devils outlasting the Cavaliers, 4-3. Duke enters Friday’s contest on a 15-match win streak, dating back to March 25, 2006. Prior to the loss on March 25, Duke remained unbeaten against Virginia for 26 years, with the previous loss coming on October 3, 1980. During the 15-match win streak, Duke has outscored the Cavaliers, 70-36.

Scouting the Cavaliers
Virginia boasts a talented contingent of singles and doubles players, with four singles players and one doubles team ranked by the ITA. Sophomore Julia Elbaba headlines the Cavaliers, ranking fourth in the nation. Elbaba currently owns an 18-2 overall record and a 6-0 dual match record in the No. 1 position this season. Freshman Rachel Pierson joins Elbaba among the top 125 ranked singles players, appearing as No. 39 on the list. Pierson enters Friday’s contest with an 18-7 overall record and a 4-2 dual match ledger. In addition to Elbaba and Pierson, No. 53 Danielle Collins (14-8 overall, 2-3 duals) and No. 107 Stephanie Nauta (16-4 overall, 6-0 duals) are also nationally ranked. In doubles play, the tandem of Elbaba and Pierson currently rank third in the nation, recording a 20-4 overall ledger and a 4-2 dual match mark.

Syracuse Series History
The Blue Devils lead the series against the Orange, 3-0. In the most recent meeting between the two teams on March 31, 1995, the Blue Devils defeated Syracuse, 7-2. Prior to the victory, Duke had not surrendered a singles or doubles point to the Orange, posting a 6-0 victory on March 27, 1988 and a 9-0 win on March 1, 1987. Sunday’s contest marks the first conference meeting between the two teams.

Scouting the Orange
The Orange own a combined 3-22 dual record in 2014, with freshman Rhiann Newborn leading the team with a 1-2 mark. Junior Breanna Bachini and freshman Valeria Salazar have each registered a 1-3 record through four matches this season. In doubles, the Syracuse Orange currently are 3-9 overall, with the duo of senior Aleah Marrow and freshman Rhiann Newborn combining for a 1-1 overall record, juniors Amanda Rodgers and Komal Safdar teaming to record a 1-0 mark, and senior Maddie Kobelt and Salazar pairing to earn a 1-3 record.

Ashworth’s Assessment
“We’ve talked a lot about how this weekend is the start of a 14-match season,” Duke head women’s tennis coach Jamie Ashworth said. “It’s basically a sprint to see who can get the best record. Rankings don’t have anything to do with it. In the past, you’ve had teams in our conference that have been No. 2 or No. 3 in the country and fourth in the conference, based on conference results. We still have a lot to prove, coming off the year we came off of last year. I don’t think there’s any part of our team that’s satisfied with what we’ve done. It was a great accomplishment for our team and program and everyone around our program, but the girls have worked really hard over the last 10 days to get started for our conference season, which, historically, is what we build our program on. If you look around the tennis center and the banners, it all started with our ACC play. It’s really what we’re focusing on and emphasizing.”

“Playing at Virginia is always tough,” Ashworth said. “They’ll have their marching band at the match. It’s just a different atmosphere. You have to stay focused and have fun with it. We can’t go in there and build it up and hype it up and play a lot more tense. The crowd will be good, but it’s a good tennis crowd. The more people we have at matches, the better, no matter the atmosphere. It’s better for college tennis. But definitely playing there is one of the tougher places to play, especially indoors.”

Duke Wins ITA Indoor National Team Title
Duke captured the second ITA Team Indoor Championship in school history Feb. 10 in Charlottesville, Va. The win marked the team’s first ITA indoors title since 2003. The Blue Devils rallied from a 3-0 deficit after falling behind early against UCLA. Duke fought back and closed the match with two third-set tiebreaks to clinch the victory over the Bruins. Hanna Mar clinched the win for Duke with a 7-3 tiebreak in the second set and a 10-3 tiebreak in the third set after dropping the first set, 6-3 against the No. 24 singles player in the country, Jennifer Brady. Beatrice Capra defeated No. 1 Robin Anderson, 1-6, 6-3, 10-7, Ester Goldfeld upset No. 9 Chanelle Van Nguyen, 6-4, 7-5, and Alyssa Smith upended No. 36 Kyle McPhillips, 3-6, 6-1, 10-8, to earn the additional three points needed to defeat UCLA.

Four Blue Devils Named to ITA National Team Indoor All-Tournament Team
Hanna Mar was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2014 ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship following a 16 coach vote at the conclusion of the tournament. In addition to Mar, Beatrice Capra, Marianne Jodoin and Annie Mulholland each earned All-Tournament team accolades. Mar posted a 3-0 mark in the third singles spot and clinched the final point for Duke against UCLA in a come-from-behind victory over No. 24 Jennifer Brady, 3-6, 7-6 (3), (10-3). Mar also clinched Duke’s upset of defending champion North Carolina after defeating Whitney Kay, 2-6, 6-4, 10-5.

Capra collected a 3-1 singles record over the course of the tournament, including victories over the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 15 competitors in the country. Capra also performed well in doubles, amassing a 2-1 ledger while teaming with Mar. Jodoin and Mulholland collected a 2-1 record in the No. 3 slot for Duke, including a 6-3 victory over 42nd-ranked Ashley Dai and Laura Slater.

Blue Devils Ranked in ITA Polls
After opening the season ranked 10th by the ITA, the Blue Devils held the position through four weeks of competition before winning the ITA National Team Indoor Championship and securing the No. 1 ranking. After winning the title, five members of the Duke women’s tennis team earned national rankings. No. 3 Beatrice Capra remains the highest ranked Blue Devil, owning a 19-3 overall mark. Ester Goldfeld moved up more than 20 positions in the ITA’s latest rankings, appearing 20th overall. Goldfeld remains undefeated in dual-match play in the No. 2 position. No. 42 Hanna Mar also improved in the rankings. Mar has not lost a dual-match contest this season, recording a perfect 5-0 mark. No. 96 Alyssa Smith and tied for No. 115 Marianne Jodoin appear among the nation’s top 125 for the first time this season.

Three Duke doubles pairs also appear on the ITA listings. The duo of Beatrice Capra and Hanna Mar rank sixth overall, winning five of their six matches against nationally ranked opponents this season. The tandem of No. 16 Annie Mulholland and Ester Goldfeld and the team of No. 39 Goldfeld and Marianne Jodoin also earned top 40 rankings.