ATHENS, Ga. – In a match that did not conclude until 12:30 in the morning, the fifth-ranked Duke women’s tennis team upended No. 14 Clemson, 4-1, Thursday, May 15, in Athens, Ga., securing the team’s 17th trip to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Team Championship. Duke is scheduled to face No. 3 UCLA Saturday, May 17, at 4 p.m. With the victory, Duke improved to 18-6 when playing in the round of 16 and 60-24 all-time in the NCAA Team Championship.
“Clemson’s a great team,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “Obviously there’s a lot of familiarity with the two teams. It didn’t produce the best tennis for either one of us, but I think both teams competed well. It’s tough to come here and play a conference team that you’re so familiar with, knowing that they’re just as familiar with you. We got through, and it started with the doubles match.”
Although the Tigers came out with aggressive play to start the match, Duke was able to secure the doubles point, posting victories on courts one and three.
The 69th-ranked tandem of junior Annie Mulhollandand freshman Chalena Scholl led the Blue Devils off the courts in doubles with an 8-4 victory over Clemson’s Joana Eidukonyte and Jessy Rompies at the No. 3 position. The Duke duo trailed 1-3 to open the match, however Mulholland and Scholl won two consecutive games, tying the match at 3-3 before winning three additional games to take a 6-3 lead. Eidukonyte and Rompies took a game from Mulholland and Scholl to bring the match within two games before the Duke pair won two consecutive games to win the match. Mulholland and Scholl improved to 9-3 this season in doubles play with the victory.
On court two, the No. 36 team of junior Ester Goldfeldand freshman Alyssa Smith put in a valiant effort against Clemson’s Tristen Dewar and Romy Koelzer, but were unable to earn the victory, falling 5-8. Goldfeld and Scholl sat tied with Dewar and Koelzer at 3-3, after trailing 2-3, but the Duke pair was unable to claim the lead at any point in the remainder of the match.
With the doubles contest tied at 1-1, the point came down to the competition on court 1 between Duke’s fifth-ranked duo of senior Hanna Marand sophomore Beatrice Capraand Clemson’s 17th-ranked team of Beatrice Gumulya and Yana Korleva. The teams proved evenly matched, with neither seeing a significant advantage over the other throughout the contest. The two teams sat tied at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 and 4-4 before two Duke breaks and a hold allowed the Blue Devils to take a 7-4 lead. Duke would drop two consecutive games to allow Clemson within a game before closing out the match, 8-6 and securing the doubles point. Mar and Capra reached the 20-win mark with the victory, as well as extended their doubles win streak to 12 matches.
The hotly contested doubles point proved a precursor to the stout competition Duke would face from Clemson in singles.
Redshirt junior Rachel Kahancontinued her hot streak in NCAA Team Championship play, leading the Blue Devils off the courts in singles with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Clemson’s Rompies. Kahan trailed early, falling behind 1-3 in the first set before a break and a hold brought her even at 3-3. After Rompies held serve to take a 3-4 lead, Kahan won three-straight matches to secure the first set. In the second set, Kahan jumped out to a 4-2 lead. Rompies brought the match to within a game at 4-3 before the Unionville, Conn., native won out the remaining two games to earn her 19th victory of the season. Kahan remains undefeated in NCAA Team Championship play, owning a perfect 10-0 mark during her collegiate career.
Mar followed her strong doubles play with a solid performance in singles, bringing Duke within a point of clinching the victory with a 6-4, 6-2 win over 100th-ranked Gumulya on court three. Mar led 3-0 in the first set after opening with two breaks and holding serve. Gumulya battled back, however, tying Mar at 4-4. Mar would win two straight matches to take the first set. In the second set, Mar trailed momentarily, dropping her first two games before winning the next six to close out competition on court three. Mar improved to 30-10 for the season.
Clemson earned a team point after senior Marianne Jodoin fell to Eidukonyte, 6-0, 6-1, on court six, marking her ninth loss of the season
No. 116 Scholl found herself with an opportunity to play the role of the hero and she took full advantage, clinching the victory for Duke with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 win on court four over Dewar. The contest on court four was a back-and-forth affair, with five ties in the first set, which necessitated a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, Scholl asserted herself early and took a 5-1 lead. The Pampano Beach, Fla., native remained in control the remainder of the tiebreak, winning 7-4. The second set proved equally contested. School took a 4-1 lead in the second set before Dewar won two consecutive games to bring the set within a game. Scholl settled in and closed out the set, 6-4, winning her 11th match of the season in her first collegiate round of 16 contest.
“I got a little tight in the last few games, but I was able to pull it out,” Scholl said. “We’ve put in a lot of hard work to get here, so I’m looking forward to playing more matches over the next few days.”
With the victory clinched for the Blue Devils, the match on court one between seventh-ranked Capra and 34th-ranked Yana Koroleva went abandoned with Capra trailing, 1-6, 6-3, 1-2. The match on court two also remained unfinished, with 27th-ranked Goldfeld trailing Clemson’s 33rd-ranked Koelzer, 6-2, 2-6, 3-4.
The Blue Devils will face UCLA for the tenth time in school history and the fourth time in the NCAA tournament. Duke owns an all-time record of 4-5 against the Bruins, with the Blue Devils defeating UCLA, 4-3, to earn the ITA National Team Indoor title Feb. 10. The Blue Devils have advanced beyond the quarterfinal round eight times in school history, with the most recent visit coming in 2012.