DURHAM, N.C. – Two members of the Duke women’s tennis team travel to Malibu, Calif. to compete in the 2017 Oracle International Tennis Association (ITA) Masters Tournament. The four day competition begins Thursday and runs through Sunday with matches at Pepperdine University as well as at the Malibu Racquet Club.
Senior Samantha Harris and junior Kaitlyn McCarthy represent Duke at the Oracle Masters. The pair will be part of the 32 player draw which includes many of the top NCAA players in the country. Including Harris and McCarthy, who are ranked 54th and 57, respectively, in the ITA poll, there are 18 players ranked in the top 125 of the ITA poll who will play in this weekend’s tournament. Harris and McCarthy will also take part in the mixed doubles tournament.
“I am honestly expecting Sam and Kaitlyn to be able to compete with the best,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “Both are improving everyday and now after this past weekend, both have some matches under their belt. It’s a great opportunity for Sam and Kaitlyn to represent Duke and their teammates at one of the premier events during the college season.”
The singles draw includes the ITA’s top-ranked player in UCLA’s Ena Shibahara as well as Pepperdine’s third ranked Ashley Lahey and North Carolina’s fourth ranked Sara Daavettila.
Harris was awarded the third seed in the singles draw and she will begin the tournament with a matchup against Jackson State’s Tyler Jackson, who is the 30th seed. McCarthy is the fourth seed and her first round matchup will be against Northern Kentucky’s Margita Sunjic, who is the 29th seed. The pair will also take part in the mixed doubles tournament. Harris will partner with Johanner Schretter from Baylor for the tournament while McCarthy will form a duo with USC’s Tanner Smith.
McCarthy started the fall slate strong as she combined with junior Ellyse Hamlin to go 3-0 in doubles competition at the Duke Bonk Invitational as well as winning all three of her singles matches to take first place in her flight. After finishing last season on a 21 match winning streak, McCarthy has now won 24 collegiate singles matches in a row.
“The winning streak is something we've never talked about especially since it's been over two seasons. She played matches this summer and was beat by some really good players and I think that kept her hungry,” Ashworth said. “I know she wants to build on last spring and keep getting better. Playing every match as its own individual entity is something Kaitlyn has done really well.”
Harris lost her first singles match at the Duke Invite, but bounced back to win her final two matches to win the consolation side of her draw. She spent the majority of last season playing in the first singles position for Duke and is no stranger to strong competition.
“Sam did play some of the best players in college tennis last year and hopefully she was able to realize she too is one of the best,” added Ashwoth. “This weekend is another chance for her to prove to herself what kind of player she can be.”
The mixed doubles will start at 8:00 a.m., on Thursday, followed by the first round of singles play.