DURHAM, N.C.— Entering a key weekend of ACC action, the top-ranked Duke women’s tennis kicked off play in good fashion with a 6-1 victory over 25th-ranked Notre Dame (5-5, 0-2 ACC) on Friday evening at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.
The Blue Devils improved to 10-1, 2-1 in ACC play on the season and will next host No. 11 North Carolina (11-2, 3-0) at 12:00 p.m., on Sunday, March 2 at Ambler Tennis Stadium.
“I thought we played pretty well,” commented Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth. “I told them I didn’t think we played with very much emotion at the very beginning of doubles. That is not how we have been playing. We are better when we are an emotional team. It carries over to the things on the court as far as our movement, the shots we hit and the shot selections that we have. If we have energy we play more aggressive.”
In doubles action, the Blue Devils continued their stellar play winning the very important point with wins on court two and three. Duke has won the doubles point now in 10 of 11 matches.
On court two, the Blue Devil tandem of Ester Goldfeld and Alyssa Smith collected an 8-4 win over Jennifer Kellner and Katherine White. Duke jumped out to a 6-1 lead before the Irish battled back to cut the ledger to 7-4, but the Blue Devils closed the match with an 8-4 score.
In a battle of two top-25 ranked doubles teams on court one, Duke’s fourth-ranked Beatrice Capra and Hanna Mar found themselves down 4-2 early to 23rd-ranked Quinn Gleason and Britney Sanders. The Blue Devil duo was able to cut the lead to 4-3 but couldn’t get any closer as the tandem dropped only their second dual match of the season, 8-4.
The point came down to court three with Duke’s Chalena Scholl and Annie Mulholland taking on Notre Dame’s Jane Fennelly and Monica Robinson. The Irish came out rolling at the start taking a 3-0 advantage, but Duke battled back to even the score, 3-3. After Notre Dame went back ahead, 4-3, Duke responded by winning three straight games to take a 6-4 advantage. With Duke leading 7-6 and at match point, 40-love, the Irish came back to take the advantage. The Blue Devils fired back winning three consecutive points and clinched the doubles point with an 8-6 victory.
In singles, Duke jumped out to early leads by winning the first set on four of the six courts.
“We won a lot of first sets fairly easily because we played with more emotion and then we kind of hit a lull again,” commented Ashworth. “We just have to play a complete matches a little bit better.”
Senior Rachel Kahan made quick work out of Mary Closs winning, 6-3, 6-0, on court five to give Duke a 2-0 lead. Kahan, who is out of Unionville, Conn., snapped a three-match losing streak as she improved to 5-3 on the season.
Notre Dame got on the board next after Gleason registered a 6-0, 6-4 win over 18th-ranked Goldfeld on court two. Riding a three-match win streak and boasting a 7-1 dual match record, Goldfeld struggled from the start dropping the first seven games. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Goldfeld started making a comeback to even the ledger at 4-4, but Gleason won two consecutive games to take the win and cut the Duke lead to 2-1.
On court four, 92nd-ranked Smith continued her excellent play winning her third straight match over Robinson, 6-2, 6-3. Smith, who is out of Laguna Niguel, Calif., got off to a hot start going ahead 4-0, before Robinson came back to win two consecutive games. Smith then finished off the first set, 6-2. In the second set, Robinson came back to win the first two games, but Smith reeled off five straight wins and clinched the set with a 6-3 victory.
With Duke leading 3-1, Mar would once again clinch the victory for the Blue Devils with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Kellner on the third court. A product of Burr Ridge, Ill., Mar cruised in the first set winning 6-3, but got down 4-2 in the second before storming back to win 6-4. She improved to 7-1 in dual match action this season.
Capra, the second-ranked singles player in the nation, continued her standout play on court one as she downed Sanders, 6-1, 6-4. Even though Capra lost the first set in both matches and found herself down 4-2 in the second set, she stayed strong and improved to 20-4 on the year.
Duke led 5-1 coming down to the last match on court six with Mulholland versus Molly O’Koniewski. Mulholland, who is out of Portand, Ore., found herself down 4-2 in the first set, but came back strong to win, 6-4. In the second set, Mulholland took a commanding 3-0 lead and held on to win 6-4.