DURHAM, N.C. – The fifth-ranked Duke women’s tennis team, competing in its 26th NCAA tournament, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Team Championship after routing East Tennessee State, 4-0, in warm temperatures at Ambler Tennis Stadium in Durham, N.C., Friday. The Blue Devils (25-4), the fourth seed in the competition, will play South Carolina (17-10) Saturday at 3 p.m. in Ambler Tennis Stadium.
“The biggest thing today was not having played in two weeks,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “You could definitely tell. We went out and just played. We didn’t play to targets we had been working on or any kind of strategy we had been working on. We’re lucky that we have some depth on doubles, but we have to be better with little things we’ve done well with all year. We got off to a decent start in doubles, with two breaks in each match and let it roll from there. I do think we competed well, and that carries us sometimes.”
The Blue Devils set the tone early in doubles play, breaking East Tennessee State’s serve to take a 1-0 lead on all three courts.
The 36th-ranked pair of junior Ester Goldfeld and freshman Alyssa Smith earned its 11th win of the season after bypassing East Tennessee State’s tandem of Sofia Espana and Salma Dahbi, 8-4, on court two. The Blue Devil duo took an early 2-0 lead after breaking East Tennessee State’s serve and then holding. After a break on East Tennessee State’s fourth serve, bringing the match to 5-2, the Duke pair dropped just two more matches before Smith served out the match. With the victory, Goldfeld and Smith led the Blue Devils off the courts.
On court one, senior Hanna Mar, teaming with sophomore Beatrice Capra, served out the match to clinch the doubles point for the Blue Devils. Mar and Capra defeated East Tennessee State’s Lyn Yee Choo and Ana Gerbasi, 8-4, extending their winning streak to 10 matches. The Duke pair broke East Tennessee State’s serve three times in the match. The Duke doubles team, which never trailed in the match, now owns an 18-5 mark, which leads the Blue Devils this season in doubles.
With the clinch of the doubles point, the match between Duke’s team of junior Annie Mulholland and Chalena Scholl and East Tennessee State’s Giulia Andreazza and Jessica Brumit was abandoned with Duke leading, 7-4.
Duke’s momentum from clinching the doubles point carried over to singles.
“[We were] a little bit more disciplined [in singles] than the doubles,” Ashworth said. “We played more toward targets. Our first serve percentage was pretty good. We capitalized on leads that we had, which was good. I think that’s something we have to do tomorrow when we have opportunities to end points or end sets, to take advantage of them."
Redshirt junior Rachel Kahan worked quickly on court four, not dropping a game to Sofia Espana of East Tennessee State. With the 6-0, 6-0 victory, Kahan earned her 17th win of the season, as well as her fifth at the No. 4 position.
The 36th-ranked Goldfeld followed suit on court one, posting a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Choo. Goldfeld used the momentum of a break at 1-1 to pull away from Choo, not surrendering another game in the match. Goldfeld nears the 30-win barrier this season, sitting just one win shy of the mark with the victory.
Mulholland clinched the fourth and final point for the Blue Devils with a 6-1, 6-1 defeat of East Tennessee State’s Salma Dahbi. Mulholland fell behind, 0-1, early in the first set before asserting herself and winning six consecutive games. In the second set, Mulholland saw an early advantage at 2-1 and never relinquished the lead en route to her 14th win of the season.
With the game decided, matches on courts two, three and five were left unfinished. No. 36 Mar led Gerbasi, 6-4, 2-0, on court two, Smith trailed Andreazza, 2-6, 2-4, on court three and senior Marianne Jodoin sat tied, 6-6, with Brumit on court five.
The match, which spanned two hours and 20 minutes, finished in half the time of the previous match between South Carolina and Ohio State, which took well over four hours to complete.
“I hope [the short match time] helps, especially because two weeks ago we had to play four matches in four days,” Ashworth said. “Our goal was to get off the court quick. We talked about not just coming out in swinging and I think they did a good job of that in singles.”
Live scoring and free live streaming of tomorrow’s second round match can be found here.