DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 9 Duke women’s tennis team will play its first road match of the season when the Blue Devils travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., for a Saturday afternoon match against No. 10 Michigan.
“We’re not looking at the rankings, but we’re excited for a true road match for us,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “Especially for the girls who haven’t played dual matches before and haven’t been in our program before, being able to get a sense of traveling as a team, obviously we took the Hills Family Trip to Hawaii, but a dual match is different. We’re excited about the opportunity to play a really good Michigan team. At their place, they’re especially good. We’ve had a couple of good days of practice after the Kickoff Weekend and the excitement from that. But now we have to emotionally recharge and be ready to go and be at our best this weekend. It’s a great opportunity and a great test.”
Both Duke and Michigan have started their seasons 3-0 so far. Duke beat Elon 7-0 to start the year, and then took wins over Fresno State (4-0) and Washington (4-2) to qualify for the ITA Indoor Team National Championships. The Blue Devils will be trying to start their season at least 4-0 for the 11th consecutive year. The Wolverines kicked off their season with a 6-1 win over Kansas and then added consecutive 4-1 wins over Gonzaga and Tulsa to book their trip to the ITA Indoors.
Saturday’s match will be the 12th meeting between the two programs. Duke leads the all-time series 8-3, but Michigan took the last match, 4-3 in April 2016. That loss was the last time Duke lost a regular season home match, a streak spanning 17 matches. From Feb. 26, 1988 through Feb. 11, 2012, Duke dominated the series, winning six straight times with three of those being shutouts. The Blue Devils are 71-17 all-time against Big Ten programs.
Michigan has been led by Kate Fahey and Chiara Lommer. Lommer is a team best 16-5 in singles play and 10-5 in doubles. She checks in at No. 74 in the ITA singles poll and is 2-0 in the second position to start dual match play. Fahey is the highest ranked Wolverine in the ITA poll, ranked No. 33. She is 12-5 overall in singles and is on a six-match winning streak. Fahey has played in the first position and won in all three dual matches.
Michigan will be the first dual match Duke will play away from the friendly confines of Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. Since the 1999-2000 season, Duke is 107-49 (.686) on the road, including a perfect 9-0 in 2000-01. Last year, Duke went 7-1 in road contests.
After a fall where most of the headlines came from the performances of the doubles tandems, Duke’s strong singles play has been apparent at the start of the dual match season. So far the Blue Devils are 13-1 in singles play during dual matches, paced by Meible Chi’s 3-0 record on court five. Chi has won seven singles matches in a row and is 9-1 in her past 10.
Samantha Harris, Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin have all led the way as upperclassmen on the team. Harris and McCarthy are both 2-0 on court one and two respectively. Hamlin picked up one of the biggest wins of the early season when her quick singles win on court four against Washington drew Duke level after the Huskies won the doubles point, helping Duke to a 4-2 win.
“You can’t ask for anything more from them,” Ashworth said. “They’ve all been great so far this spring and especially going into the first road match, being able to share their expectations and what the focus needs to be and what our priorities need to be on a road match. It’s great and I expect the three of them to continue stepping up.”
The match will get underway at noon on Saturday afternoon in the Varsity Tennis Center. Live scoring can be found here.