URBANA, Ill. – After impressive short-handed wins in the first and second round, the No. 15 Duke women’s tennis team were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament after falling to top-ranked Florida, 4-0, in the Round of 16 Friday morning at the Kahn Outdoor Tennis Center in Urbana, Ill. The Blue Devils conclude their season with a 16-10 ledger, while the Gators advance to the quarterfinals to face California.
The Blue Devils dropped the doubles point after being forced to forfeit their match at the No. 3 position and dropping the match at No. 1 doubles. Senior Mary Clayton and junior Hanna Mar lost two early breaks and fell behind, 5-0, against Florida’s 11th-ranked tandem of Lauren Embree and Sophie Oyin before holding serve and winning their lone game of the match. Embree and Oyin sealed the crucial opening point for the Gators with an 8-1 win. With the loss, the duo of Clayton and Mar fall to 5-6 for the season.
Florida extended its lead to 3-0 after senior Nicole Lipp was unable to slow 123rd-ranked Olivia Janowicz at the No. 5 position, falling, 6-1, 6-2. In the second set, Lipp hung tough by keeping the match on serve, 2-2, before dropping two consecutive breaks to fall behind, 5-2. Janowicz clinched the match with her next service game.
Jodoin and No. 89 Brianna Morgan remained on serve in the first set, until Morgan was able to win the first break to gain a 5-3 advantage. In the second set, Morgan quickly went up a break, 1-0, and never looked back, sealing the match for the Gators, 6-3, 6-0. With the loss, Jodoin concludes the season with a 30-8 overall ledger, including a 18-2 mark in dual matches.
On court four, No. 106 Clayton was able to win two straight breaks to stay alive in her match against 17th-ranked Oyen, before it was left unfinished, 1-6, 4-5.
Mulholland was the lone Blue Devil to win the first set, as she downed 51st-ranked Cercone, 6-3, in the frame. The match was left unfinished, 6-3, 2-3. At the top position, No. 29 Mar fell in the first set, 1-6, but led top-ranked Embree by a break in the second, 5-3, before the match was left unfinished, 1-6, 5-3.
“If anyone can appreciated what Duke did this year, getting here with four players, it’s (assistant coach) Dave (Balogh) and me,” said Florida head coach Rolan Thornqvist. “It’s a remarkable feat to get to the Round of 16, and they gave us all we could handle on the courts. They’re very competitive, and I appreciate what they did. With that being said, I thought we played well.”
Clayton, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ends her illustrious career at Duke with a 110 singles wins, the 13th most in program history. After tallying a 12-7 singles record in dual matches this season, and a 5-3 mark in ACC play, Duke’s captain has etched her name into program record books in career singles wins and career ACC singles wins (29, 2nd), while also holding one of the highest winning percentages in Duke tennis history (.743, 8th).
After advancing the Round of 16 for the sixth consecutive year, Duke concludes its season with an overall 16-10 record.
No. 1 Florida 4, Duke 0
9 a.m. CT – South Courts
1. #1 Lauren Embree (FLA) vs. #29 Hanna Mar (DUKE) 6-1, 3-5*
2. #17 Sofie Oyen (FLA) vs. #106 Mary Clayton (DUKE) 6-1, 5-4*
3. Annie Mulholland (DUKE) vs. #51 Alexandra Cercone (FLA) 6-3, 2-3*
4. #89 Brianna Morgan (FLA) vs. Marianne Jodoin (DUKE) 6-3, 6-0
5. #123 Olivia Janowicz (FLA) vs. Nicole Lipp (DUKE) 6-1, 6-2
6. #116 Caroline Hitimana (FLA) def. – (DUKE) Forfeit
1. #11 Embree/Oyen (FLA) def. Clayton/Mar (DUKE) 8-1
2. Cercone/Hitmana (FLA) vs. Jodoin/Mulholland (DUKE) 4-4*
3. Collins/Morgan (FLA) def. – (DUKE) Forfeit
Order of Finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (6,5,4)
* = unfinished