ROME, Ga. – A back and forth ACC Championship semifinal at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College saw third-seeded Georgia Tech edge second-seeded Duke, 4-2, Saturday.
The 12th-ranked Blue Devils slipped to 20-5 with the loss, while the eighth-ranked Yellow Jackets improved to 25-3 and advanced to Sunday's title match, where they will face top-seed North Carolina.
On Saturday, Georgia Tech claimed the doubles point but Duke answered with victories on courts three and four in singles to take a 2-1 lead. Despite the rally by the Blue Devils, the Yellow Jackets rounded out the match with three straight-singles wins to reach Sunday's title match.
"After the doubles it was the same thing as a week ago – I thought we could come out and win four singles matches," said head coach Jamie Ashworth. "We just didn't get off to a good start. They were able to capitalize on the momentum from the doubles and they played well. They played a good, smart match. We battled back. We definitely gave ourselves some opportunities and some third sets but they played the bigger pressure points better I thought. It was disappointing but we'll learn from it and be ready to go again in two weeks."
Georgia Tech seemed to take the upper hand early in singles, but Duke fought back on several courts. After outlasting 84th-ranked Paige Hourigan of the Yellow Jackets, 7-5, in the first set on court three, 53rd-ranked Chalena Scholl cruised to a 6-0 result in the second set to knot the match at 1-1. The victory pushed Scholl's record to 7-1 in career ACC Tournament matches, and her season mark to 30-6.
The middle of the Blue Devils' lineup continued to provide momentum, as sophomore Kaitlyn McCarthy gave the Blue Devils their first lead in the match with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Kenya Jones on court four. Ranked 99th in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) singles poll, McCarthy jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the second set before putting away the contest with identical 6-3 scores.
The result extended McCarthy's singles win streak to 19 consecutive matches – the longest by a Blue Devil since Rachel Kahan notched 30 straight from Sept. 18, 2010 to May 22, 2011. McCarthy also moved to 27-5 on the season and 22-1 in dual match singles play.
The Yellow Jackets knotted the match again at 2-2 when 40th-ranked Meible Chi suffered a 6-1, 6-4 setback to 58th-ranked Johnnise Renaud on court two. Georgia Tech was then able to regain the lead with a win on court one. Junior Samantha Harris, the 76th-ranked player in the ITA poll, came up just short in a first set tiebreaker against No. 50 Rasheeda McAdoo there, 7-6 (3), and lost in the second set, 6-2.
With just two singles courts still in play, the Yellow Jackets secured the victory from the No. 6 position, where sophomore Ellyse Hamlin dropped a grueling three-set match to Luca Fabian. Fabian took the first set, 6-3, before Hamlin stormed back to claim the second set by a 6-0 margin. The players were locked at 2-2 in the decisive set before Fabian closed it out at 6-2.
Senior Alyssa Smith was in the midst of a third set on court five when play finished. The Laguna Niguel, Calif., native bounced back from a first set 7-5 loss to claim the second frame against the Yellow Jackets' Nami Otsuka, 6-4. Otsuka was leading 4-1 in the decisive set when the match was clinched.
Georgia Tech had taken the early 1-0 lead with the doubles point. In the No. 3 doubles matchup, Rebecca Smaller and Hamlin were unable to rally after trailing 3-0 early against Otsuka and Fabian. The Georgia Tech tandem went on to win, 6-3, to lead all teams off the courts.
Facing the 23rd-ranked duo of McAdoo and Renaud in the No. 2 contest, Duke's Smith and Scholl rebounded from an early 4-1 deficit to cut it to 4-3. However, McAdoo and Renaud would go on to win the next two games for a 6-3 decision, securing the doubles point for the Yellow Jackets.
The Blue Devils' 55th-ranked doubles pair of McCarthy and Chi were trailing No. 39 Hourigan and Jones, 2-4, when the point was decided.
Duke now awaits the NCAA Selection Show, which will be streamed on NCAA.com Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
No. 8 Georgia Tech 4, No. 12 Duke 2
April 27, 2017 at Rome, Ga. (Rome Tennis Center at Berry College)
1. #39 Paige Hourigan/Kenya Jones (GT) vs. #55 Kaitlyn McCarthy/Meible Chi (DU) 4-2, unfinished
2. #23 Rasheeda McAdoo/Johnnise Renaud (GT) def. Alyssa Smith/Chalena Scholl (DU) 6-3
3. Nami Otsuka/Luca Fabian (GT) def. Rebecca Smaller/Ellyse Hamlin (DU) 6-3
1. #50 Rasheeda McAdoo (GT) def. #76 Samantha Harris (DU) 7-6 (3), 6-2
2. #58 Johnnise Renaud (GT) def. #40 Meible Chi (DU) 6-1, 6-4
3. #53 Chalena Scholl (DU) def. #84 Paige Hourigan (GT) 7-5, 6-0
4. #99 Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) def. Kenya Jones (GT) 6-3, 6-3
5. Nami Otsuka (GT) vs. Alyssa Smith (DU) 7-5, 4-6, 4-1
6. Luca Fabian (GT) def. Ellyse Hamlin (DU) 6-3, 0-6, 6-2
Duke 20-5; National ranking #12
Georgia Tech 25-3; National ranking #8
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (3,4,2,1,6)
ACC Women's Tennis Championship Semifinal