ROME, Ga. – The Duke women's tennis team marched to the ACC Championship semifinals with a 4-1 victory against Clemson on Friday at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College. The Blue Devils, ranked 12th nationally this week and seeded second, advance to the league semifinals for the first time since playing in the 2014 title match.
Duke ups its record to 20-4, hitting the 20-win plateau for the first time since 27 in 2014. Clemson, ranked No. 39 nationally this week, dips to 13-12. Sophomore Kaitlyn McCarthy clinched the match with a three-set win on court four. McCarthy extends her winning streak to 18 matches and is now 21-1 in dual matches this season. Her winning streak is the longest for a Blue Devil since Rachel Kahan's 30 from September 18, 2010 – May 22, 2011.
“We talked about that we had to put everything into tonight and couldn't worry about tomorrow,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “We knew Clemson would be tough. We beat them 5-2 a couple weeks ago at home. In that match, we won two matches with 7-6 scores in the third sets and lost the doubles point.”
The Blue Devils took an early 1-0 lead Friday thanks to an exciting doubles point that was determined by a pair of matches that were pushed to the tiebreaker. The Tigers won the first decision as Fernanda Navarro and Daniela Ruiz defeated junior Rebecca Smaller and sophomore Ellyse Hamlin 6-4 on court three. The Blue Devil duo led 4-1, but could not hold on as Clemson marched off the last five games.
Seniors Alyssa Smith and Chalena Scholl evened the doubles action with a 7-6 (9) triumph against Constanza Gorches and Sydney Riley on court two. Duke took a lead near the midway point at 4-2, but the Clemson pair responded and knotted the set at 4-4. Neither team pulled away and the set went to the tiebreaker, in which the two engaged in a lengthy battle with Duke coming away with the win a combined 20 points later.
The top tandems determined the outcome with Duke freshman Meible Chi and McCarthy holding on for the upset win of No. 31 Marie Leduc and Ayan Broomfield 7-6 (7) on court one. Chi and McCarthy, ranked No. 55, were knotted at nearly every point of the set and went to the tiebreaker. The Clemson pair led 4-2 in the tiebreaker, but could not hold on as Duke came back with seven of the final 10 points for the victory.
“To get the doubles point was big tonight,” Ashworth added. “We played the tiebreakers really well. We're just excited for the chance to play tomorrow. We, unfortunately, haven't made the weekend the last couple years. It's a great opportunity again for us again tomorrow.”
Hamlin avenged the doubles setback and gave the Blue Devils a 2-0 lead with a 6-3, 6-0 win against Ruiz on court six. With a 3-3 tie in the opening set, Hamlin ran off the last nine games to win the match. Hamlin is now 1-1 in her career in ACC Championship singles competition.
“One of the biggest matches for us was Ellyse,” Ashworth noted. “She had lost in straight sets to Ruiz three weeks ago. That win tonight was a big lift for everybody. She was vocal and emotional. That was a huge win for us.”
Clemson cut the Duke lead to 2-1 on court one, where Leduc rebounded from her doubles loss to upend No. 76 Samantha Harris 6-0, 7-5. After getting blanked in the opening set, Harris was even at every point of the second before Leduc pulled out the last two games for the victory.
The Blue Devils pushed the lead back to two points at 3-1 as Scholl finished off Navarro 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 on court three. Scholl, ranked No. 53 this week, breezed through the first set and was tied 2-2 in the second before Navarro ripped off four straight games. Scholl regrouped and answered in final set with a 2-0 lead. Navarro responded with two of the next three games to trail just 3-2, but Scholl won the final three for the match. Scholl improved her career singles record in ACC Championship action to 6-1. This season, Scholl owns a 29-6 record and is 19-2 in dual matches.
McCarthy finished off the match with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 victory against Riley on court four. McCarthy pushed a 2-1 lead in the opening set into a 4-2 advantage and closed out for the set. The second set had Riley turn a 2-2 tie into a 4-2 advantage. McCarthy, ranked No. 99, cut the deficit to 4-3 and responded to a 5-3 deficit with two wins to tie the set at 5-5. Riley rallied and won the final two games to force the deciding third set. With the final set even at 1-1, McCarthy ripped through the final five games for the victory.
Duke now turns its attention to the 1 p.m. Saturday semifinal against Georgia Tech. The Blue Devils ended the regular season with a 4-3 win against the Yellow Jackets as Duke, Georgia Tech and North Carolina tied for the ACC regular season title with 13-1 records.
No. 12 Duke 4, No. 39 Clemson 1
April 28, 2017 at Rome, Ga. (Rome Tennis Center at Berry College)
1. #55 Kaitlyn McCarthy/Meible Chi (DU) def. #31 Marie Leduc/Ayan Broomfield (CU) 7-6 (9-7)
2. Alyssa Smith/Chalena Scholl (DU) def. Constanza Gorches/Sydney Riley (CU) 7-6 (11-9)
3. Fernanda Navarro/Daniela Ruiz (CU) def. Rebecca Smaller/Ellyse Hamlin (DU) 6-4
1. Marie Leduc (CU) def. #76 Samantha Harris (DU) 6-0, 7-5
2. #40 Meible Chi (DU) vs. #89 Ayan Broomfield (CU) 5-7, 6-3, 4-1, unfinished
3. #53 Chalena Scholl (DU) def. Fernanda Navarro (CU) 6-0, 2-6, 6-2
4. #99 Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) def. Sydney Riley (CU) 6-2, 5-7, 6-1
5. Alyssa Smith (DU) vs. Constanza Gorches (CU) 6-3, 3-6, 4-3, unfinished
6. Ellyse Hamlin (DU) def. Daniela Ruiz (CU) 6-3, 6-0
Clemson 13-12; National ranking #39
Duke 20-4; National ranking #12
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (6,1,3,4)
ACC Women's Tennis Championship Quarterfinal