DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 15 Duke women’s tennis team kicked off its final weekend of the regular season with a 7-0 sweep against Louisville on Friday at Ambler Tennis Stadium. The Blue Devils did not drop a set while keeping their hopes for a share of the ACC regular season title alive.
Duke improves to 18-4 overall and 12-1 in ACC action. The Blue Devils face No. 6 Georgia Tech on Sunday with the Yellow Jackets owning a 13-0 league ledger. A Duke victory would bring the Blue Devils and Georgia Tech into a tie for first. With two wins this weekend, North Carolina would also finish with one ACC loss.
“I think everybody had some really good and positive things today,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “It’s good to go into Sunday with everybody having some recall of winning the last match they played. Obviously Sunday is a huge match. We talked yesterday in practice that we had to worry about Louisville first. You can’t overlook any team in this conference. We were focused on what we need to do tonight to give us the opportunity on Sunday.”
Individually, sophomore Ellyse Hamlin secured the clinching point and classmate Kaitlyn McCarthy tallied her 13th ACC victory, the most in a year in Duke history. McCarthy will head into Sunday’s regular season finale with a 13-0 ledger versus league opponents.
The Blue Devils had the early advantage in doubles as seniors Chalena Scholl and Alyssa Smith topped Elle Stokes and Jessie Paul 6-2 on court two. Duke followed a 1-1 tie with four straight wins to go up 5-1 and hold on for the win.
The No. 1 matchup secured the doubles point with Duke’s tandem of freshman Meible Chi and McCarthy earning a 6-4 win versus Abbie Pahz and Marina Humberg. Chi and McCarthy trailed 2-0 before evening the set at 2-2. The match was also even at 3-3 before Duke took two straight to lead 5-3. Louisville broke to trail 5-4, but the Blue Devils broke back to win.
Junior Samantha Harris and Hamlin were knotted at 6-6 with Louisville’s Ariana Rodriguez and Aleksandra Mally when the point was decided.
“I thought we were a little bit flat in doubles,” Ashworth said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect after the North Carolina match on Wednesday. We were so emotional. It was such an emotional match in doubles and singles Wednesday. I thought we were a little flat coming out today. After the doubles, we told them if they expended the energy and went hard, we would be off the court. If we didn’t put in the effort, we were going to end up in a long match, which is really not what we needed. We needed to be as efficient as we possibly could. I thought we did a good job of that.”
Duke quickly pushed the lead to 2-0 as No. 36 Chi downed Stokes 6-0, 6-4 on court two. Chi captured the first seven games before Stokes forced a 4-4 tie in the second set. Chi rebounded and finished the match.
The Blue Devils secured the third point on court one, where No. 85 Harris downed Mally 6-4, 6-0. Harris took an early 2-0 lead in the opening set and Mally could never force a draw, trailing by one game four times.
Hamlin clinched the match for Duke with a 6-3, 6-3 win against Rodriguez on court six. Hamlin led 2-0 in the first set and pushed the advantage to 4-1 and 5-2 before finishing the set. The second set had another 2-0 Hamlin advantage, but Rodriguez forced ties at 2-2 and 3-3 before Hamlin ran off the last three games.
Duke picked up its fifth point from No. 113 McCarthy on court four, where she downed Pahz 6-3, 6-3. McCarthy led 3-0 in the opening set before Pahz answered to cut the deficit to one game at 3-2 and 4-3. McCarthy responded with the last two games for the set. The second set was even at 1-1 before McCarthy went on a four-game run to go ahead 5-1. Pahz won consecutive games to trail 5-3, but McCarthy closed out the match.
Scholl pushed past Humberg on court three by a 6-4, 6-3 score to give Duke a 6-0 advantage. Scholl, ranked No. 56 this week, was tied at each of the first four points in the initial set before taking the last two games. The second set had Scholl trail 3-1, but she rallied with five straight games to end it.
The Blue Devils tallied a seventh point on court five with Smith topping Tiffany Huber 7-6 (6), 6-0. Smith trailed 4-0 before winning 12 of the final 14 games. The first set tiebreaker had Smith out to a 5-2 lead before Huber answered to knot the breaker at 6-6. Smith took the final two points and the next six games for the match.
Sunday’s match against Georgia Tech will serve as senior day with Scholl and Smith honored prior to the opening serve.
“Sunday is a great opportunity for us,” Ashworth said. “We’ve had some unbelievable matches with Georgia Tech the last couple of years. They have been battles. We lost a tough one 4-3 with the last match going to a third set last year down in Atlanta. We lost 4-3 up here the year before. I would expect Sunday to be another great match.”
No. 15 Duke 7, Louisville 0
April 21, 2017 at Durham, N.C. (Ambler Tennis Stadium)
1. #45 Meible Chi/Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) def. Abbie Pahz/Mariana Humberg (LOU) 6-4
2. Chalena Scholl/Alyssa Smith (DU) def. Elle Stokes/Jessie Paul (LOU) 6-2
3. Ellyse Hamlin/Samantha Harris (DU) vs. Ariana Rodriguez/Aleksandra Mally (LOU) 6-6, unfinished
1. #85 Samantha Harris (DU) def. Aleksandra Mally (LOU) 6-4, 6-0
2. #36 Meible Chi (DU) def. Elle Stokes (LOU) 6-0, 6-4
3. #56 Chalena Scholl (DU) def. Mariana Humberg (LOU) 6-4, 6-3
4. #113 Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) def. Abbie Pahz (LOU) 6-3, 6-3
5. Alyssa Smith (DU) def. Tiffany Huber (LOU) 7-6 (8-6), 6-0
6. Ellyse Hamlin (DU) def. Ariana Rodriguez (LOU) 6-3, 6-3
Louisville 14-11, 3-10 ACC
Duke 18-4, 12-1 ACC; National ranking #15
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1); Singles (2,1,6,4,3,5)
Official: Bruce Harrison T-3:02 A-102