WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The draws for the 2018 Women’s Tennis NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships were released Tuesday, with three Blue Devils set to compete in the first round of singles play on Wednesday and two tandems slated to compete in the opening round of doubles play on Thursday, all at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex.
Samantha Harris, Meible Chi and Kelly Chen all received at-large bids to compete in the 64-player singles field. Chi will be making her second straight appearances in the singles championship while it will be the first of Harris and Chen’s careers. Harris was seeded fourth in Tuesday’s draw and will open play against Stanford’s Emily Arbuthnott at 4:00 p.m., on Wednesday. Chi will be matched against Oklahoma’s Lily Miyazaki with first serve scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Chen will take on Pepperdine’s Evgeniya Levashova at 11:30 a.m. In the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll, Arbuthnott is ranked No. 43, Miyazaki No. 41 and Levashova No. 54. The trio of Blue Devils are all ranked in the top 55, with Harris No. 6, Chen No. 28 and Chi No. 55.
Harris and Chen will pull double duty, as they also earned at-large bids to the doubles bracket, as did fellow Blue Devil pair, Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin. Harris and Chen are a No. 5 through No. 8 seed and will open the tournament against Sarah Dvorak and Sabrina Federici of Texas Tech. McCarthy and Hamlin are also a No. 5 through No. 8 seed and their first-round opponent is Pepperdine’s duo of Luisa Stefani and Mayar Sherif Ahmed. Both doubles matchups are rematches from earlier this season. Harris and Chen fell to Dvorak and Federici 1-6, 6-0, 0-1 in the semifinals of the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships. McCarthy and Hamlin earned a 6-4 win over Stefani and Sherif Ahmed during the Rainbow Invitational in January. The Texas Tech pair is ranked No. 28 by the ITA while the Pepperdine tandem is No. 13. Harris and Chen come in ranked No. 6 and McCarthy and Hamlin are No. 9.
Harris, a first-team All-ACC selection, heads into NCAA Tournament play with a 30-12 mark in singles, going 15-6 in dual matches, all on court one, and 11-3 in the ACC. Harris’ 15 wins over ranked opponents are the most on the Blue Devil squad. The Melbourne, Australia native was the runner-up at the ITA Carolina Regional Championships and the ITA Fall National Championships. During the course of the year, she has climbed as high as No. 4 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) singles rankings and has been in the top-10 since Jan. 17. Harris was recently named the ITA Carolina Region Most Improved Senior as well as the ITA Carolina Region Senior Player of the Year.
Chen has compiled an overall ledger of 38-7, with the 38 wins the most on the squad and placing her fourth by a Blue Devil freshman. The rookie from Cerritos, Calif., has gone 25-1 in dual matches and became the first Duke freshman to win all 14 of her ACC matches, earning ACC Freshman of the Year and second-team All-ACC honors. She is currently on a 20-match winning streak, which is the second-longest by a Blue Devil rookie. Chen has ranked among the top-30 in the ITA singles poll since Feb. 9 and has climbed as high as No. 22 and was recently named the ITA Carolina Region Rookie of the Year.
Chi will return to the NCAA Singles Championship for the second consecutive season. In 2017, Chi defeated Alabama’s Erin Routliffe 6-2, 6-3 in the round of 64 before falling to South Carolina’s Mia Horvit 6-4, 6-1 in the round of 32. Chi becomes the eighth Blue Devil to receive a bid to the singles tournament in each of their first two seasons. The Weston, Fla., product has served as the No. 2 Blue Devil for much of the season and has a 35-7 record this season, winning 23 straight matches from Nov. 6 to Apr. 8. She has been ranked in the ITA singles poll throughout the season and climbed as high as No. 20.
Along with participating in the singles tournament, Chen and Harris will enter into the doubles championship as a No. 5 through No. 8 seed. The pair went 25-9 this season and 15-7 in dual matches. They have nine wins against ranked opponents against just three losses. The pair reached the semifinals of the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships and the ITA Fall National Championships. Harris and Chen were ranked No. 1 in the first ITA doubles poll of the season, making them the first Blue Devils to top the ITA poll since Mallory Cecil did in 2009. They have stayed in the top-six for the entirety of the season.
After being named as an alternate for the 2017 edition along with Chi, McCarthy will enter into the doubles tournament this year, playing with Hamlin. The junior tandem will also be a No. 5 through No. 8 seed and has a team-high 30-8 record this season and are 19-6 in dual matches. Hamlin and McCarthy combined to win the Riviera/ITA All-American championship during the fall, the first collegiate Grand Slam title for Duke since Cecil won the 2009 NCAA singles title. They became the fifth Blue Devil doubles tandem to win 30 matches in a single season and have a team-best 10-5 record against ranked opponents.