WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The season came to an end for the Duke women’s tennis team as Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin fell in the NCAA Doubles Semifinals on Sunday afternoon at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex.
McCarthy and Hamlin were looking to become the first Blue Devil doubles tandem to play for the national championship and needed to go through Oklahoma State’s Vladica Babic and Sofia Blanco to do so.
Duke started the match by winning the first game, but could not gain any traction the rest of the first set. Babic and Blanco won the final six games to take a commanding 6-1 first set lead.
In the second set, the momentum stayed with the Cowgirls as they won each of the first two games. McCarthy and Hamlin got their first break of the match in the next game to halt Oklahoma State’s eight-game run and followed by winning two more games. The second set kept going back and forth with Oklahoma State regaining a 4-3 lead and then the two teams trading games. With Babic and Blanco leading 5-4 in the set, Duke needed to fend off a pair of match points. McCarthy and Hamlin came through, holding serve to tie the match at 5-5. Unfortunately, the reprieve turned out to be temporary, as Oklahoma State won the next game and then closed out the match by breaking Duke’s serve for a 6-1, 7-5 victory.
“I don’t think we played with the same fire and desperation that we’ve been playing with,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “We were a little bit too passive. We were hoping that the other team would miss rather than going after the shots. Oklahoma State played a great first set, but we gave ourselves some opportunities in the second set and we didn’t take advantage of it. We’d get a little momentum and give it right back. It’s something we have to work on as a team as a whole, in-match management. A lot of that match was in-match management. We play a great point and then miss a return. We couldn’t capitalize on any momentum. It’s a tough way to end such a great year.”
McCarthy and Hamlin finish the season with a 33-9 record and both were named All-America for the first time in their careers. They won Duke’s third doubles Collegiate Grand Slam title when they won the Riviera/ITA All-American championships in the fall and are just the fourth Duke duo to reach the NCAA Semifinals. The junior partners went 10-2 in the postseason, which included the ACC Tournament, the NCAA Team Tournament and NCAA Doubles Tournament and went 13-6 against ranked duos.
“They had a great year,” Ashworth said. “To start out and winning All-Americans and then having a tough end to the fall, but battling back. In their last few matches, they’ve beaten four or five top-10 teams. They beat top-five teams from UNC, Northwester, Texas Tech and Stanford. They showed they could be one of the best doubles teams in the country. They both have another year so we will see where we go with it.”
2018 NCAA Div. I Women’s Singles Championship May 23-28, 2018 at Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wake Forest Tennis Complex)
Round of 16
No. 18 Anna Danilina (Florida) def. No. 28 Kelly Chen (Duke) 2-6, 7-5, 6-2