DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 3 Duke women’s tennis team will try to keep its winning streak going as the Blue Devils battle a pair of ACC opponents. Duke will be on the road on Friday, April 6 for a 3:00 p.m., match at No. 4 Georgia Tech before returning home for a 2:00 p.m., match with the Clemson Tigers. The Blue Devils enter the week as the sole unbeaten ACC team.
All regular season women’s tennis home events at Ambler Tennis Stadium are free to the public. General public parking is available in the Blue Zone parking lot off of Duke University Road.
Series History vs. Georgia Tech
Friday’s match will be the 45th meeting between Duke and Georgia Tech, with Duke holding a 35-9 advantage in the series. Duke beat Georgia Tech 29 straight times to open the series, but since 2013, the Blue Devils have topped the Yellow Jackets just once. Duke’s dramatic 4-3 home win last season clinched a share of the ACC regular season title for Duke and snapped a five-match losing streak against Georgia Tech. Duke trailed 2-0 and 3-1 in that match, but consecutive singles wins by Ellyse Hamlin, Kaitlyn McCarthy and Chalena Scholl turned the score around. Georgia Tech evened the season series with a 4-2 win in the ACC Championship semifinals.
Scouting Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets are ranked No. 4 in the ITA team rankings and have a 14-4 record. Georgia Tech sits in third place in the ACC with a 6-2 conference mark and is coming off a 4-3 loss at Syracuse. Kenya Jones leads Georgia Tech with a 20-4 singles record and is a dominating 15-1 in dual matches. Paige Hourigan and Jones are the top two Georgia Tech players in the ITA singles poll, with Hourigan leading at No. 19 and Jones checking in at No. 64. The Yellow Jackets have three doubles tandems ranked in the ITA poll. Hourigan and Jones are No. 2 after holding the top spot last week and are 16-6 this season. Jones and Victoria Flores are ranked No. 68 and Ida Jarlskog and Johnnise Renaud are No. 77.
“Georgia Tech is always a tough match,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “They’re extremely well coached. They hit the ball really hard which is one thing in the past has given us some issues, especially in the doubles play. We had two really good matches with them last year, but we struggled with the doubles in both matches. They tend to play very aggressive doubles. It’s something that we’ve been working on. I know our girls are excited to play and it’s a great atmosphere to play in down at Georgia Tech and we’re looking forward to that.”
Series History vs. Clemson
Duke and Clemson will be meeting for the 54th time on Sunday afternoon. The Blue Devils hold a 32-21 advantage over the Tigers and have won five straight. Duke beat Clemson twice last season, winning 5-2 at home and 4-1 in the ACC Championship quarterfinals.
Clemson enters the weekend ranked No. 45 with a 10-9 overall record and a 3-5 record in the ACC. The Tigers have won two matches in a row, beating NC State 4-3 and Notre Dame 5-2. Marie Leduc is the highest ranked Tiger, checking in at No. 20 in the ITA singles poll. Leduc is 18-7 on the season and is 9-4 in dual matches, all on court one. Leduc combines with Fernanda Navarro to form the No. 44 ranked doubles tandem. The pair are 18-5 this season, including 10-2 in dual matches. They have won eight matches in a row and are 5-0 in ACC matches.
“Depending on what happens on Friday, we need to make sure emotionally, that we’re ready to play on Sunday,” Ashworth added. “I think that our girls understand how important our every match is. It’s a little different being away and home in the same weekend, but everyone has to go through that. We need to make sure that we put Friday behind us, hopefully with a good win, and back that up on Sunday with a good performance.”
20 Win Plateau
Duke has four players who have already cleared 20 wins this season with McCarthy one win away from joining them. The four Blue Devils with 20 singles wins is the most since six pulled the feat in the 2013-14 season. Kelly Chen leads the team with a 28-7 record. Samantha Harris is not far behind with a 25-8 record and Meible Chi is 26-3. Hamlin is the fourth player with 20 wins, holding a 21-4 record and McCarthy is currently 19-9.
“They work hard in practice,” Ashworth said. “I keep saying it, but they value every opportunity to play and do a very good job of doing that. It showed up again this past week. We’re up in the Florida State and Louisville matches 4-0 or 4-1, but they still finish their individual matches like it matters. I think that we’ve done a really good job of valuing every point. The girls, just because a match is over, they’re not going to stop playing. They want to keep playing and want to show good that they can be. They see every time we play as an opportunity to show that too. They’ve been great about that. I think the numbers of wins shows the depth that we’ve had all year. The position hasn’t really mattered, they just go out and play and do everything to win that match that day.”
ACC Career Wins
Duke has four players climbing up Duke’s ACC wins chart. Harris picked up her 35th and 36th career ACC wins last weekend to move into a tie for second with Rachel Kahan. Hamlin now has 25 career ACC wins of her own while McCarthy has 24. Hamlin is tied for 11th all-time at Duke while McCarthy is tied for 13th. Chen has opened her career with wins in all eight of her ACC matches, putting her in a tie for ninth among Duke freshmen.
Top Five Matchup
With Duke ranked No. 3 and Georgia Tech No. 4, it will be the 11th top five matchup for Duke since the start of the 2008-09 season. The Blue Devils are 5-5 in the previous 10 matchups. The last matchup was a 4-2 loss to No. 3 UCLA in the 2014 NCAA Tournament with Duke ranked No. 5. Duke’s last win came in the 2012-13 season when the No. 4 Blue Devils knocked off No. 2 Florida 4-0.
Duke is currently on a 10-match winning streak, including eight straight ACC wins. With one more win, Duke will have its sixth winning streak of 11 games or more in the past 14 years. It would also be the fourth time that Duke has started 9-0 or better in the ACC, joining the 2011 (10-0), 2012 (11-0) and 2017 (11-0) teams. Chi is currently on a 21 match winning streak, which is the longest streak since McCarthy won 25 straight between last season and the beginning of this season. Chen has the second longest active winning streak on the team with 10 straight. That puts her one win away from the ninth longest streak by a freshman in Duke history.
“None of that matters,” said Ashworth. “It’s great to have that confidence and feeling, but you have to go out and play your best that day. Whatever you’re capable of doing that day, you have to give it your best. So far, every time we’ve gone out to play, we’ve answered the bell and been up for that challenge. We need to keep that going.”
Duke in the ITA Rankings
The Blue Devils moved up a spot in the ITA team rankings and are now ranked third. Harris has now moved up to the highest ranking of her career as she is No. 4 in the singles poll. Chen also moved up, coming in at No. 26. Chi is No. 63 and McCarthy is No. 79. Rounding out the singles is Hamlin at No. 85. In the doubles poll, Harris and Chen stay at No. 5 for the second poll while Hamlin and McCarthy drop one spot to No. 7.