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Courtesy: Duke Athletics
Duke Readies for ITA Team Indoor Championship
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 02/08/2018
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Match 5
No. 19 South Carolina (4-1) vs. No. 9 Duke (4-0)
Friday, February 9 l 10:00 a.m.
Madison, Wisc. | Nielsen Tennis Stadium
Live Stats | Live Video | Twitter | ITA Team Indoor Championship Homepage 

DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 9 Duke women’s tennis team looks to cap the indoor portion of the spring season on a strong note at this week’s ITA Team Indoor Championship in Madison, Wisc. The Blue Devils will open the tournament against No. 19 South Carolina.

“It’s always a great trip, the people in Wisconsin do a great job hosting the event," said head coach Jamie Ashworth. "It’s an exciting tournament in that you have the top 16 teams in the country. It’s a good marker to see where we are as well as where everyone else is in this stage of the season. We can compare ourselves to others and learn what we need to work on moving forward towards the NCAA’s. It’s a great event in that it lets you get insight into where you fit at this point in the season.”

Duke is 4-0, marking the 11th consecutive season the Blue Devils have been unbeaten through their first four matches. The program’s longest season-opening winning streak was nine matches in 1991 and 2003.

The Blue Devils hold a 16-8 lead in the all-time series against the Gamecocks, but the two teams have not met since 2014. Duke has won seven straight matchups between the two schools, including three straight 4-0 victories. The last came in May 2014 as Duke won in the second round of the NCAA Championship.

South Carolina are 4-1 this season. The Gamecocks dropped the season opener to UCF 4-3, but have won four straight since, including a 4-0 win over Oklahoma and a 4-1 road win at Clemson to reach the ITA Team Indoor Championship. South Carolina has two players ranked in the ITA singles poll as well as one ranked doubles tandem. Hadley Berg checks in at No. 38 and she is 15-1 this season. She is 1-0 on court one and 2-0 on court two in dual matches. Also ranked is Mia Horvit at No. 118. Megan Davies leads the squad with an 18-4 record. South Carolina’s tandem of Davies and Silvia Chinellato is ranked No. 44 and is 11-4 this season.

A stacked lineup of nationally-ranked teams will vie for the ITA Team Indoor title. The top eight seeds in the field were determined based on an unpublished ranked conducted by the National Ranking Committee. The remaining eight teams were then placed into the draw by random selection. Teams were moved to avoid playing opponents in the first round already on their respective regular-season schedules. The top eight seeds are No. 1 Vanderbilt, No. 2 Georgia, No. 3 North Carolina, No. 4 Pepperdine, No. 5 Georgia Tech, No. 6 Texas Tech, No. 7 Duke and No. 8 Florida. Florida won last year’s championship in New Haven, Conn., defeating North Carolina 4-2 in the final.

The Blue Devils have seen significant success throughout the ITA Team Indoor Championships, registering 48 wins. Duke owns two titles from the competition, with the first coming in 2003 and the most recent championship won in 2014. The Blue Devils have played in five title matches over the 30-year history of the event.

“It’s high emotion and high energy with the matches there," said Ashworth. "You have to be able to come out and be stronger than the day before because everybody is good. This tournament, in more than 20 years of playing it, you have to have a lot of character. It tells you a lot about your team and what they can do in a back to back to back situation. Win or lose you have to come out the next day and you’re playing a great opponent. You have to put whatever happens behind you the first day and be ready to go the second day. Once again you’re playing a team that’s top 16 in the country. This weekend gives you a great opportunity, it gives you a great opportunity to move forward.”

Duke is coming off its first road win, beating No. 10 Michigan 4-1. After dropping the doubles point the previous match, the Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead with wins on courts two and three. Meible Chi and Hannah Zhao did not allow Michigan to get on the scoreboard, winning their match 6-0. The No. 2 ranked pairing of Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin followed with a 6-3 win over Brienne Minor and Mira Ruder-Hook.  Duke took the first two singles decisions to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the team score. Kelly Chen took the point when Alyvia Jones retired with Chen leading 6-4, 3-0. Moments later, Hamlin closed out Ruder-Hook 6-2, 6-1. Although Zhao fell to Alex Najarian 6-4, 6-4, Chi’s 6-4, 6-2 win over Bella Lorenzini clinched the match for Duke, the third straight time that Chi has earned the match-winning point.    

The win gives us a lot of confidence," Ashworth said. "Wisconsin is a great place to play, it’s a little bit more on the neutral side than Michigan but knowing that we can go into a place like Michigan and play as well as we did, I think it gives us confidence all the way down our lineup. I think the girls really believe in each other and it also reinforces what we’ve been doing in our practices and belief in what we’re doing is working. I think they feel like we’re getting better every time we play and they’re excited about the opportunity it brings.”

Duke’s top five players are a combined 14-0 in dual matches this season. Samantha Harris and McCarthy are 2-0 on courts one and two respectively while Chen and Hamlin are both 3-0 on courts three and four. Chi paces the Blue Devils with a 4-0 record on court five. Chi is on an eight-game winning streak.

In the latest ITA rankings, Duke dropped in the doubles rankings, but continues to have two top-five duos. McCarthy and Hamlin remain ranked second in the polls, a position they have held since the Nov. 15 rankings. Chen and Harris drop four spots after being the top ranked tandem and are now ranked fifth. In singles, Duke has five ranked players. Harris checks in at No. 9 followed by Chen at No. 30. McCarthy is ranked No. 65 while Chi is No. 106. Moving into the rankings for the first time this season is Hamlin who is No. 119.

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