HONOLULU, HI – The Duke women’s tennis team started the season by winning four singles and three doubles matches on the first day of the Rainbow Invitational at Hawaii’s Tennis Complex.
Play started with doubles action. Duke’s top two doubles pairings lived up to their No.1 and No. 2 rankings in the International Tennis Association’s rankings as both won. Samantha Harris and Kelly Chen, the top-ranked tandem in the country, beat Pepperdine’s Evgeniya Levashova and Dzina Milovanovic 7-5. The junior duo of Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin, the second-ranked doubles team in the country, beat Pepperdine’s Luisa Stefani and Mayar Sherif 6-4.
“For the first time out this spring, I was impressed with how we came out in our doubles,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “Although we didn’t play great, I thought we showed a lot of toughness when the matches got close.”
Also winning was the pairing of sophomore Meible Chi and freshman Hannah Zhao, as they knocked off Hawaii’s Marina Hruba and Alzbeta Houbova 6-3. It was the first win as a Blue Devil for Zhao who joined the team this month. Rounding out the doubles play was the pairing of senior Rebecca Smaller and freshman Ema Lazic, who fell to Hawaii’s Michelle Pits and Roxanne Resma 6-4.
Chi started singles play by beating Hawaii’s Nikola Dolakova 6-3, 6-2. Hamlin won her match against Hawaii’s Hruba 7-5, 6-2. In her first singles match at the collegiate level, Zhao dropped the first set, but bounced back to beat Hawaii’s Pits 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. Smaller won a second set tiebreaker to beat Hawaii’s Houbova 6-4, 7-6 (5).
"It was great for Hannah to get her first collegiate wins in both singles and doubles,” commented Ashworth. “She is going to be a tremendous addition to Duke.”
Harris fell to Pepperdine’s Stefani 6-2, 6-4. Chen lost to Pepperdine’s 31st-ranked Sharif 6-4, 6-2. Also losing to a ranked opponent was McCarthy who dropped a 6-4, 7-6 (6) decision to Pepperdine’s 28th-ranked Ashley Lahey. In the final singles match of the day, Lazic lost in three sets 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 to Hawaii’s Taylor Lau.
“I was a little disappointed with our singles play as we had some opportunities on all courts that we couldn’t capitalize on,” Ashworth said. “Hopefully with a day of competition under our belts, tomorrow will be better. For some of our girls, this is the first time they’ve competed since early November and it definitely showed.”
The Blue Devils have one more day of action on the Hills Family Trip. They will play another round of singles and doubles on Thursday night starting at 8:00 pm.