MADISON, WIS. – The No. 9 Duke women’s tennis team opened the ITA Team Indoor Championships with a 4-0 sweep over No. 19 South Carolina on Friday afternoon in Neilsen Tennis Center.
Duke improves to 5-0 to start the season while South Carolina drops to 4-2. The Blue Devils have now won eight straight meetings with the Gamecocks.
“I thought we competed very well,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “South Carolina is a very good team and any win here is a great win. We’re excited about the outcome. I don’t think 4-0 really reflects the toughness of that match.”
The day started with doubles and it was Duke who struck first. Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin, the second-ranked doubles tandem in the country, continued their undefeated start to dual match season. The pair of juniors beat Hadley Berg and Paige Cline 6-2 to move to 4-0 in dual matches and 15-2 overall.
It looked like South Carolina had taken a doubles match when Megan Davies and Rachel Rohrabacher had three chances to win the match point against Meible Chi and Hannah Zhao, but the Duke pair fought them off to keep the match going. Shortly after, Samantha Harris and Kelly Chen, the No. 5 duo in the country, dropped Silvia Chinellato and Ingrid Gamarra Martins 7-6 (7-3) to clinch the doubles point.
“It started with our doubles,” Ashworth said. “We were down and they had three match points on court three, but we came back and didn’t let them have any confidence.”
In singles play, a familiar trio helped Duke clinch the match. Chi and Hamlin both won in straight sets to move their records in dual matches to 5-0 and 4-0 respectively. Chi beat Davies 6-2, 6-2 on court five while Hamlin dropped Chinellato 6-1, 6-2 on court four.
Those were the only two matches decided in straight sets though. The Gamecocks appeared to be cruising to the point on court three as Martins took the first set from Chen 6-1. Chen evened the match at a set apiece by the barest of margins, winning 7-6 (7-3). That momentum from the second set continued in the third as Chen took the first three games and never looked back to win the match 1-6, 7-6 (6-3), 6-1.
“All three (Chen, Hamlin and Chi) are playing with a lot of confidence,” commented Ashworth. “Kelly didn’t have a good first set, but she never wavered and didn’t let it bring her down in the second set. Ellyse is playing as solid as anyone. Overall, we competed very well when we were down and we didn’t give South Carolina anything to grasp onto to get their confidence up.”
Duke will move onto the championship bracket and will match up with No. 4 Georgia in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
“That’s the biggest thing here is getting the first match behind you and getting ready for tomorrow,” Ashworth added. “Every team is in the same situation. We have to recover and take care of ourselves and come out strong. It’s a tremendous opportunity to go out and play tomorrow.”