DURHAM, N.C. – The 2018-19 Duke women’s tennis schedule was announced Wednesday by head coach Jamie Ashworth, with the Blue Devils slated to compete in six events throughout the fall season prior to the start of dual match play in January.
Duke is slated to face-off against eight teams ranked in the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings including North Carolina (No. 2), Georgia Tech (No. 4), Oklahoma State (No. 7), Miami (No. 15), Florida State (No. 17), Illinois (No. 19), Virginia (No. 20) and Michigan (No. 23).
“As always, we’re trying to play the toughest schedule we possibly can,” Ashworth said. “We’re opening with a really good Oklahoma State team who has been in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals a few years ago [at the NCAA Tournament]. They have a lot of experience and it’s a great trip for us to be able to play in the Bahamas which will be a great opportunity for us and something we’ve never done before. We’ll follow that up by coming back home to host the [ITA] Kickoff Weekend which is something we’ve earned to be able to hopefully play two matches at home.”
Duke opens the fall campaign at the Furman Invitational Sept. 21-23 in Greenville, S.C., before traveling across the country to the 2018 ITA Women’s All-American Championships in Pacific Palisades, Calif., Sept. 29-Oct. 7. Following the trip to California, Duke returns to North Carolina for back-to-back competitions in Chapel Hill. The Blue Devils will compete in the ITA Regional Oct. 18-22 and the Kitty Harrison Invitational Nov. 2-4. Duke will then travel back across the country for the remainder of the fall, with qualifying team members participating in ITA National Indoors action in Surprise, Ariz., Nov. 7-11 and others taking the courts in Tempe, Ariz., for the Arizona State Fall Invitational Nov. 9-11.
Following the new year, the team will depart on their first international trip to compete against Oklahoma State Jan. 12 in the Bahamas before returning home to welcome Elon Jan. 23.
During the final weekend in January, Duke will once again serve as a host site for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Kickoff Weekend. Duke opens the contest Jan. 26 against Gonzaga before consolation and championship matches set for Jan. 27.
The Blue Devils kick off the month of February by hosting Illinois Feb. 3, before a potential trip to Seattle, Wash., Feb. 8-11 for the National Team Indoors event. Following a week off from competition, Duke travels south to close out the month with ACC matchups against Florida State Feb. 22 in Tallahassee, Fla., and Miami Feb. 24 in Coral Gables, Fla.
The month of March includes a full slate of competition, including four chances to catch the Blue Devils at home. Duke welcomes Georgia Tech to Durham March 1 before traveling down Tobacco Road to face North Carolina March 6. The Blue Devils will make their second trip to the “Sunshine State” March 9 for a contest against Michigan before returning home to face Wake Forest (March 15) and Pittsburgh (March 17). Duke will close out the final week and a half in March at Louisville (March 22) before welcoming Virginia (March 24) and then traveling to Virginia Tech (March 29) and Notre Dame (March 31).
The final month of the regular season begins with a trip to Clemson, S.C., April 5 before welcoming the final three opponents to Durham. Duke will face NC State (April 10), Syracuse (April 12) and Boston College (April 14) in the regular season finale.
“The ACC schedule is as tough as it could possibly be,” Ashworth said. “As a conference last year, we had two teams in the final four, three in the top five of the final [ITA] rankings and others right there in the round of 16. Our schedule is tough and doesn’t provide us with any breaks which is good. We want to play the best competition. It’s the only thing that will prepare us for what our ultimate goals are. We want to challenge ourselves everyday on the court and our conference allows us to do that.”
Postseason for the Blue Devils begins with the ACC Tournament, scheduled for April 17-21 in Cary, N.C.
Last season, Duke posted an overall record of 27-4, including a 13-1 record against ACC foes. Duke saw great success in the postseason by collecting the ACC regular season championship for the 21st time in program history and reached the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time.
“This year, we’ve added a lot of later matches and the purpose of that is to try and involve the community a bit more,” Ashworth said. “Instead of playing a 3 p.m., Wednesday match, we’ll play at 6 p.m., on a Friday. We have a great facility and want to take advantage of that.”
Duke opens fall competition with the Furman Invitational Sept. 21-23 in Greenville, S.C.