DURHAM, N.C. – Duke women’s tennis coach Jamie Ashworth announced the signing of Hannah Zhao and Maria Mateas Friday afternoon. Zhao will join the Blue Devils squad for the spring portion of the 2017-18 season while Mateas will begin her college career during the 2018-19 campaign.
“We could not be happier and more excited today to be adding two great people to the Duke Tennis family,” said Ashworth. “Both Hannah and Maria are going to be tremendous assets to the Duke community on and off the court. Both bleed Duke Blue through and through and will represent Duke with a tremendous amount of passion and pride.”
Zhao, a blue-chip recruit according to Tennisrecruiting.net, owns a wealth of experience competing against top competition. In 2017, the San Diego, Calif., native won the 115th Annual Southern California Junior Sectional Championships and the Roy Emerson Adoption Guild Tennis Classic. That followed up titles in the 2016 USTA National Selection Tournament and the Seventh Annual Carmel Valley Open.
“I liked that Duke excelled in both areas of academics and athletics,” said Zhao. “I loved the coaches and the team and how everyone worked together. It felt like a family atmosphere. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I’m excited to be playing with the team and experiencing college tennis and improving with my new coaches.”
In addition to her titles, Zhao has made appearances in the title match of other tournaments. In singles, Zhao reached the final of the 78th Annual Santa Ana Open. She also played in the title match of the mixed open doubles at USTA National Open Hard Court Championships and the mixed open doubles at the Carmel Valley Open.
“Hannah comes to us having had a great career in Southern California, one of the toughest sections in junior tennis,” Ashworth said. “She has played in plenty of big matches having won the Southern California sectionals twice and showed that she has the grit and determination to be a special player for Duke. Coming into school this January, Hannah will make an immediate impact on our program, we cannot wait for her to enter school and start her career as a Blue Devil.”
Mateas is also rated as a blue-chip recruit according to Tennisrecruiting.net and she has extensive experience playing in both junior and pro circuit tournaments. Mateas reached a high of 26th ranking in the junior circuit and is currently the 410th ranked singles player on the pro circuit with a career record of 25-21 there.
“The first time I started thinking about Duke was when my brother Catalin went,” said Mateas. “I went down there with him for a week and I loved it. I loved the campus and I know the girls on the team really well. That did it for me. Durham is great and I like the coaches a lot. So it was kind of a no brainer. Academics wise, you can’t really get any better than that.”
Mateas, a product of Briantree, Mass., also has a personal connection to Duke as her older brother, Catalin, is a junior on the men’s team.
“Maria brings a wealth of both national and international experience to our program,” commented Ashworth. “She comes from a great tennis family, a family that knows and loves Duke. Maria has had incredible growth and development in her game and her work ethic is second to none. She is someone that will truly flourish in college, her best tennis is definitely in front of her.”
Duke’s 2017-18 squad is slated to resume competition Wednesday, Jan. 17, traveling to Honolulu, Hawaii, for the Rainbow Invitational.