DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 9 Duke women’s tennis team swept past Fresno State 4-0 in the first round of the ITA Kickoff Tournament in the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center on Saturday afternoon.
Duke improves to 2-0 on the season while Fresno State falls to 1-1.
All three matches were needed to decide the doubles point. Duke’s third pairing of sophomore Meible Chi and freshman Hannah Zhao stayed undefeated playing together, beating Fresno’s Abbey Watanabe and Alessia Dario 6-1. But the Bulldogs bounced back by beating Duke’s top-ranked duo of senior Samantha Harris and freshman Kelly Chen 6-2. Luckily for the Blue Devils, the second-ranked tandem of juniors Ellyse Hamlin and Kaitlyn McCarthy cruised to a 6-2 win to give Duke a 1-0 advantage in the team score.
“Our doubles were a little bit flat and we didn’t play with very much emotion,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “It was our first time, going back to Hawaii last week, that we were flat. We have to learn from that and realize that we have to play with more passion. A six game set as opposed to an eight game set is too quick to work yourself into it so you have to come out and make sure you’re ready to play and they caught us at one doubles, but two and three did a good job of overcoming that."
With the doubles point in hand, the Blue Devils came out on fire to close out the match quickly. All six Duke players took the first set and did not allow Fresno State to win more than three games in the process. Zhao was the first to close out her opponent, beating Olivia Noble 6-0, 6-4. Chi followed her doubles partner with a 6-1, 6-3 win to keep the Weston, Fla., native undefeated in both singles and doubles this spring. In between Zhao and Chi’s win was Harris getting back in the win column by beating Emma Wilson 6-3, 6-2 giving Duke the fourth and clinching point.
“Singles, the one thing that we emphasized between the singles and doubles was to play with emotion,” commented Ashworth. “I didn’t care what the score was, the first point or the last point, if you hit a good ball I want to see you fist pumping. I want to hear you, I want your teammates to hear you and I thought we did that. We’re not good enough to just show up and turn a switch on and off so we need to do the little things and being emotional is one of them.”
Duke will now face Washington, who beat LSU 4-3 earlier in the day, with a trip to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships on the line. The match will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday in Sheffield Tennis Center.
“We created a great opportunity for ourselves and we’ve talked about taking advantage of opportunities and this is a great opportunity,” Ashworth said. “Washington had a great emotional victory today so we need to come out and give everything we have on every point, physically and emotionally. If we can do that, we’ll let the results take care of themselves. We’re excited for that opportunity, it’s something we play for, to reach the National Team Indoors. I think we’ll be fired up and ready to go.”