ANN ARBOR, MICH. – The No. 9 ranked Duke women’s tennis team got its first ranked win and road victory on Saturday afternoon, defeating No. 10 Michigan 4-1 at the Michigan Indoor Tennis Center.
Duke improves to 4-0 this season while Michigan falls to 3-1. The Blue Devils are now at least 4-0 to start the year for the 11th straight season.
Coming off losing the doubles point for the first time this season, Duke came out strong on Saturday. Meible Chi and Hannah Zhao wasted little time in their doubles match, winning 6-0. The second-ranked doubles duo of Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin soon followed with a 6-3 win to give Duke the point and a 1-0 lead in the team score.
“We talked a lot about the start and I told our team as a whole today, let’s win the first three games,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “Let’s make it a three game match and fight our butts off for the first three games and compete in those games and do everything we can win those games. We weren’t 3-0 on every court, but we played with the energy we needed. Obviously on court three we did a great job, but on the other courts we got off to great starts and played with great energy. We needed to do that. If we wanted to win this match today, there was no option to sit back and just hope Michigan missed balls. We needed to go take.”
As singles started, Duke kept its energy high and stormed out of the gates. Kelly Chen took the first singles point for the Blue Devils as she led 6-4, 3-0 when her opponent, Alyvia Jones, retired from the match. Just moments later, Hamlin finished off a 6-2, 6-1 decision over Mira Ruder-Hook to put Duke one point from clinching the victory.
Duke’s celebration was momentarily halted when Alex Najarian beat Zhao 6-4, 6-4. But for the third straight match, Chi shut the door with the clinching point. The Weston, Fla., native beat Bella Lorenzini 6-4, 6-2 to give Duke the win.
“It’s not an easy place to play,” added Ashworth. “We’ve gotten beat here before. Michigan, historically plays with a lot of emotion. We needed that attitude to be successful. We needed to come out and not let them have any kind of confidence and I thought we did a great job of that.”
Duke will next travel to the ITA Indoor Team National Championships in Madison, Wisc. The tournament will get underway on Friday, Feb. 9.
“We’re excited for the opportunity. We talked about all of these are different opportunities for us to show how good we can be and different steps to take to build what we want to build. We’re excited to get to Madison and have a great week there. Everyone’s excited and everyone’s working hard. We’re getting better, we played a better match today than we did against Washington, we played a more complete match today. Everyone’s excited about what lies ahead.”