CARY, N.C. – The No. 3 Duke women’s tennis team advanced to the ACC Championship match with a 4-1 win over Miami on Saturday morning at Cary Tennis Park.
Duke is now 23-2 on the season. The Blue Devils advance to the conference championship match for the first time since 2014 and will be trying to win their first ACC title since 2012. Miami has a 16-7 record.
The Blue Devils got out on the front foot immediately in doubles. Duke’s top two doubles tandems each won their first three games to take leads they never relinquished. The top pairing of Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin dropped just one game on their way to a 6-1 win over Estela Perez-Somarriba and Daniella Roldan. Samantha Harris and Kelly Chen had a 5-1 lead, but the match got interesting as Dominika Paterova and Ulyana Shirokova won three straight games. With the Hurricanes on the brink of tying the score, Harris and Chen recovered to win the game and close out a 6-4 win.
“We played much better than we did yesterday,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “Yesterday we got some nerves out and were a little more comfortable out on the courts todday. Our doubles got off to great starts. I thought we were very aggressive. We were very smart with our targets and played with a lot of emotion. One doubles, played a great match. Swinging with their forehands, closing and finishing volleys. Two doubles, the same thing with really simple targets. If we can continue to do that, I really like where our doubles are.”
Duke’s momentum continued into the singles play with the Blue Devils winning the first set on five of the six courts. Unfortunately, the only court they did not win on was court one where Harris retired, giving Perez-Somarriba the win and tying the team score 1-1.
The Blue Devils regained the lead when Hamlin finished a perfect second set and beat Shirokova 6-2, 6-0.
Her doubles teammate, McCarthy, put Duke on the brink of the final when she beat Roldan 6-4, 6-4. After winning the first set, the Cary, N.C., native dropped the first two games of the second set. Playing on the courts she grew up on though, McCarthy won three of the next four games to tie the score and never trailed again.
For the second straight day, it was Meible Chi who locked up the win for Duke. Chi trailed by a game on three different occasions in her first set against Sinead Lohan, but never by more and finally took the lead at 5-4. After closing out her first set, Chi won the first four games of the second to make her win only a matter of time. It came after eight games and Chi knocked off Lohan 6-4, 6-2 to send Duke to the final.
“One of the things we wanted to do in singles is have the attitude that we had to have every point,” Ashworth said. “We wanted to play to seven, not just to four and get off the court. We wanted to really focus on everyone valuing every point. It didn’t matter the score. We wanted to run through the finish line and we did that.”
Duke will meet a familiar opponent in Sunday’s championship. The Blue Devils will battle the North Carolina Tar Heels for the third time this season. North Carolina won the first meeting 4-1 at the ITA Team Indoor Championships and Duke upset Tar Heels 5-2 at home last weekend. The match is scheduled to start at 10:00 a.m., at Cary Tennis Park.
“It’s just another opportunity,” added Ashworth. “We’re not defending anything. No matter who we play, we need to be the ones who are aggressive and the ones attacking. Take advantage of the opportunity. That’s what I told them. It’s right there for us, but we have to go and take it. We can’t sit back and, whoever we play, hope someone misses.”
1. No. 3 E. Perez-Somarriba (MIA) def. No. 6 Samantha Harris (Duke) 4-3, retired
2. No. 54 Meible Chi (Duke) def. No. 64 Sinead Lohan (Mia) 6-4, 6-2
3. No. 105 Kaitlyn McCarthy (Duke) def. Daniella Roldan (Mia) 6-4, 6-4
4. No. 28 Kelly Chen (Duke) vs. Ana Madcur (Mia) 6-2, 5-6 unfinished
5. No. 118 Ellyse Hamlin (Duke) def. Ulyana Shirokova (Mia) 6-2, 6-0
6. Hannah Zhao (Duke) vs. Dominika Paterova (Mia) 6-4, 3-5, unfinished
1. No. 12 Kaitlyn McCarthy/Ellyse Hamlin (Duke) def. No. 79 E. Perez-Somarriba/Daniella Roldan (Mia) 6-1
2. No. 5 Samantha Harris/Kelly Chen (Duke) def. Dominika Paterova/Ulyana Shirokova (Mia) 6-4
3. Meible Chi/Hannah Zhao (Duke) vs. Ana Madcur/Sinead Lohan (Mia) 3-3, unfinished
Miami 16-7; National ranking No. 15
Duke 23-2, ; National ranking No. 3
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2) Singles (1, 5, 3, 2)