WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The No. 2 Duke women’s tennis team dominated for the third straight match, this time dropping No. 12 Wake Forest 7-0 at Wake Forest Tennis Complex on Friday afternoon.
“To beat a strong team like that 7-0 is great,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “Every time you can go on the road and get an ACC win, it’s a challenge.”
Duke improves to 9-1 and 2-0 in ACC play. The Demon Deacons drop to 8-4 and 0-2 in conference.
Duke’s two most consistent doubles teams once again came through to clinch the doubles point for the Blue Devils. Meible Chi and Hannah Zhao were the first to finish their match, beating Courtney Meredith and Alexis Franco 6-4. Soon after Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin finished off Eliza Omirou and Anna Ulyashchenko 6-3 to give Duke a 1-0 lead. Both tandems are now 6-2 in dual matches this season.
“Our doubles play was better than it’s been,” Ashworth said. “We can still be a little bit more aggressive and more emotional, especially at the start. We challenged them at the beginning of the match to win the first three games, even if it’s not on the scoreboard, but emotionally and mentally and we did a pretty good job of that.”
In singles, it was all Duke early on as the Blue Devils won the first set on five courts. Duke quickly followed with wins in three of the second sets to clinch the match. Kelly Chen was the first to clinch her match, dropping Chandler Carter 6-1, 6-4. McCarthy picked up a ranked win by beating 63rd-ranked Omirou 6-4, 6-2. Chi earned the clinching point when she beat Ulyashchenko 6-4, 6-4.
“Kaitlyn was very efficient and she didn’t play a lot of long points,” Ashworth commented. “She was very smart with her shot selection. She has a lot of confidence right now and is playing the right way which is great to see. Kelly served really big. On the fast indoor courts, she really took advantage of her serve. She did a good job of controlling the tempo and momentum of the match. Meible has been playing so solid and has a lot of confidence. She’s able to dictate the points and is really hitting a clean ball.”
Zhao and Hamlin both won their first sets, but were taken to a third set after their Demon Deacon opponents claimed the second set. Zhao made sure the third set was never close, beating Meredith 6-4, 0-6, 6-2. Hamlin trailed Joanna Zalewski in the third set tiebreaker, but a late run allowed the Fairfield, Conn., native to pull out a 6-4, 3-6, 1-0 (10-8) victory.
Samantha Harris was the only Duke player to drop the first set, but she roared back in the second set to force a decisive third set against No. 33 Emma Davis. That final set was tied at two games apiece before Harris won the final four to win 2-6, 6-2, 6-2. It is the 31st career ACC win for Harris, tying her for fourth all-time at Duke.
“Sam did a great job playing how she normally doesn’t like to play,” Ashworth said. “She took the pace off the ball, in order to win. It shows how coachable she is and does what she needs to win. She’s been obviously a winner and is unbelievably consistent with her effort. Win or lose, she brings it every time. That’s not easy to do over a four-year period. She’s consistently brought that competitive fire every time she plays and does good job setting an example and leading.”
Duke will next travel to Virginia for a 12:00 noon match on Sunday afternoon against the No. 24 Cavaliers.
“Virginia is another challenging match,” added Ashworth. “We need to build on what we did today and keep getting better. I keep saying, it’s another opportunity for us to get better and improve individually, which helps our team.”