DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke women’s tennis team opened the 2017 dual match season in convincing fashion Wednesday afternoon, defeating Elon, 7-0, in the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. With the result, the Blue Devils improved to 1-0 on the year, while Elon’s record moved to 3-2.
“We talked, at the beginning of the match, about using this match to start defining the kind of team we are going to be from an energy and effort standpoint,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “There were definitely some first-match nerves, but I thought for our first match, the energy was pretty good. Hopefully it’s a springboard into this weekend with some tough matches coming up.”
The Blue Devils got off to a strong start, picking up victories on courts one and two to claim the doubles point and head into singles with a 1-0 advantage.
The Duke tandem of sophomore Kaitlyn McCarthy and freshman Meible Chi led the Blue Devils off the doubles courts Wednesday, defeating Elon’s Natalia Janowicz and Maria Paraja, 6-1. After the two pairs traded games to open the match, McCarthy and Chi won five straight games to claim the win. McCarthy and Chi, competing for the first time as a tandem this season, moved to 1-0 on the year.
The senior duo of Alyssa Smith and Chalena Scholl successfully clinched the doubles point for the Blue Devils after defeating Olivia Lucas and Maria Paraja of Elon, 6-2. Smith and Scholl stormed out to a 4-0 lead before Lucas and Paraja picked up their first game of the match. With the score sitting at 4-1, the two doubles teams traded games, bringing the score to 5-2, before Smith and Scholl successfully served out for the match. Smith and Scholl improved to 3-1 when competing alongside one another.
With the doubles point decided, the match on court three between Duke’s Samantha Harris and Rebecca Smaller and Elon’s Kirsten Ward and Suzanne Zenoni, remained unfinished, with the Blue Devils leading, 4-3.
Duke’s strong doubles play carried over to singles action, with the Blue Devils picking up straight-set victories on all six courts, including two, three and four, to earn the team win.
Chi, the 14th-ranked singles player in the country, earned her 16th victory of the season after downing Paraja, 6-1, 6-1, on court three. Chi took a commanding lead in each of the two sets and never relinquished her advantage. Chi’s record now sits at 16-6 with Wednesday’s result.
Scholl, the 34th-ranked singles player in the country, brought the Blue Devils within a point of the victory after the Pompano Beach, Fla., native defeated Elon’s Zenoni, 6-2, 6-1. Scholl jumped out to a 5-0 advantage in the first set, but Zenoni won back-to-back games to pull within three. Scholl successfully closed out the set however, to take an early lead. Scholl’s play was equally stellar in the second set, as she once again took a 5-0 lead. Scholl surrendered one additional game before earning her 11th win of the year.
The Blue Devils clinched the victory with 76th-ranked McCarthy’s 6-2, 6-2 win over Olivia Lucas on court four. McCarthy and Lucas proved evenly matched in the early stages of the opening set, with McCarthy owning a narrow 3-2 lead. The Cary, N.C., native won three straight games, however, to win the first set. In the second set, McCarthy claimed a 5-0 lead that she would not surrender, en route to a 6-2 second-set win and her sixth singles victory of the 2016-17 season.
Although the team competition was decided, contests on courts one, five and six were played to completion. Harris earned a 6-3, 6-2 win over Erica Braschi on court one, her third victory of the 2016-17 campaign, while Smith upended Ward, 7-5, 6-1. Smaller, competing in her sixth singles match of the 2016-17 season, outlasted Janowicz, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) to close out the day of competition for the Blue Devils.
Duke returns to action Saturday, Jan. 28, facing William & Mary in the first round of the ITA Kick-off Weekend tournament. Duke’s match with William & Mary is slated to begin at 2 p.m. in the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.