ATLANTA, GA. – The No. 3 Duke women’s tennis team lost for the first time in 11 matches, falling to No. 4 Georgia Tech 4-2 on Friday afternoon in Ken Byers Tennis Complex.
“They’re (Georgia Tech) a very good team,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “The most positive thing we can have is that we learn from it. We have to do a better job in these situations against really good teams. There were a lot of game points we didn’t capitalize on. It wasn’t that Georgia Tech took us out of it, we gave away too many points. The best thing we can do is learn because we’ll be in this situation again and we need to be better.”
Duke falls to 16-2 overall and 8-1 in the ACC. Georgia Tech improves to 15-4 and 7-2 in the ACC.
Early on in doubles, it looked like Duke might cruise to the doubles point. Meible Chi and Hannah Zhao quickly dispatched Johnnise Renaud and Nami Otsuka. That was the only match that did not need a tiebreaker to separate the tandems though. Ida Jarlskog and Victoria Flores knocked off Samantha Harris and Kelly Chen 7-6 (7-5) to tie the score. The doubles point came down to the tiebreaker on court one and the Yellow Jackets were able to snare the point when second-ranked Paige Hourigan and Kenya Jones beat seventh-ranked Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin 7-6 (7-4).
“It was a very competitive, tight doubles match,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “We played a great match on court three, one of the best we’ve played all year. On the other two courts though, we didn’t capitalize on our opportunities. We got down on court one early and did a great job of fighting back, but then dropped eight straight points when we had the momentum. On court two, we gave up too many free points and couldn’t break their serve. We put ourselves in position to win and couldn’t capitalize. We especially need to be better at the net.”
After the narrow doubles point loss, Duke needed to bounce back quickly and that’s exactly what the Blue Devils did. Chi continued her unbeatable play, beating Renaud 6-3, 6-2 for her 22nd straight win and tying the team score at 1-1. The Blue Devils took the lead shortly after when Chen beat 64th-ranked Jones 6-3, 6-4.
“Meible played great,” added Ashworth. “She lost to Renaud twice last year so it was a bit of revenge, but she played so focused and with such positive emotion. She can definitely keep building on that. Kelly is so tough in her singles matches. If she played with the same amount of aggression in doubles that she does in singles, it might have been a different story. They’re both two really good players and they can build on it and get better just like everyone else.”
Unfortunately for Duke, that was the last Blue Devil scoring of the day. Moments after Duke took the lead, Georgia Tech retied the score when Victoria Flores beat Zhao 6-3, 6-2. With the score tied, the match had to be delayed when rain forced the teams to play the remainder indoors.
Once the match resumed, Georgia Tech retook the lead when Otsuka defeated Hamlin 7-5, 6-4. The Yellow Jackets clinched the match after Hourigan came out on top in a hard fought 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 match against Harris.
McCarthy and Jarlskog were locked in a tight duel of their own after each had taken a set by the score of 7-5, but the match remained unfinished.
Duke will have a chance to bounce back this weekend when it returns to the friendly confines of Ambler Tennis Stadium on Sunday afternoon for a 2:00 p.m., match against Clemson.
“We have to have a good practice tomorrow at home,” finished Ashworth. “We need to clean up little things. I want to see us not giving away free points. If we lose points or get beat on points, it’s fine, but we have to eliminate our errors on big points. We’ve done it better as of late, but we need to keep getting better.”
1. No. 19 Paige Hourigan (GT) def. No. 4 Samantha Harris (Duke) 6-3, 2-6, 6-3
2. No. 63 Meible Chi (Duke) def. Johnnise Renaud (GT) 6-3, 6-2
3. No. 26 Kelly Chen (Duke) def. No. 64 Kenya Jones (GT) 6-3, 6-4
4. Ida Jarlskog (GT) vs. No. 79 Kaitlyn McCarthy (Duke) 5-7, 7-5, unfinished
5. Nami Otsuka (GT) def. No. 85 Ellyse Hamlin (Duke) 7-5, 6-4
6. Victoria Flores (GT) def. Hannah Zhao (Duke) 6-3, 6-2
1. No. 2 Paige Hourigan/Kenya Jones (GT) def. No. 7 Kaitlyn McCarthy/Ellyse Hamlin (Duke) 7-6 (7-4)
2. Ida Jarlskog/Victoria Flores (GT) def. No. 5 Kelly Chen/Samantha Harris (Duke) 7-6 (7-5)
3. Meible Chi/Hannah Zhao (Duke) def. Johnnise Renaud/Nami Otsuka (GT) 6-1’
Duke 16-2, 8-1 ACC; National ranking No. 3
Georgia Tech 15-4, 7-2 ACC; National ranking No. 4
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (2,6,3,5,1)