CORAL GABLES, Fla. – A three-match swing through Florida by the 18th-ranked Duke women’s tennis team ended with a third consecutive victory, as the Blue Devils downed No. 29 Miami 5-2 Sunday at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center. With the win, Duke improved to 9-3 overall and 3-0 in ACC action while the Hurricanes dipped to 4-7 and 3-3 in the league.
Duke earned its first win at Miami since a 5-2 triumph April 11, 2011, as sophomore Ellyse Hamlin clinched the decision.
“As a whole, we’re getting better,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “This trip was great in that sense. To come down and win in two of the tougher places to play – Florida State and Miami – that’s great for us. I told them after, we’ve had some of our best teams come down to Miami and not be able to win matches, so we have to build on it and be proud of how we competed and how we fought. We have a choice – we can be satisfied or we can build on it.”
Despite trailing early in two of the doubles matches, the Blue Devils quickly picked up momentum and were led off the courts by Chalena Scholl and Alyssa Smith. The tandem jumped out to a 3-1 advantage over the Hurricanes’ Ana Madcur and Estela Perez-Somarriba on court two, and went on to claim three straight games for a 6-2 victory.
After trading breaks with the Miami duo of Silvia Fuentes and Dominika Paterova, Duke’s 34th-ranked team of Meible Chi and Kaitlyn McCarthy surged ahead late in the No. 1 match for a 6-4 win. The decision sealed the doubles point for the Blue Devils and improved the tandem to 7-1 overall.
Hamlin and Samantha Harris were leading the Hurricanes’ Sara Culbertson and Sinead Lohan by a 6-5 score on court three when the point was decided.
“It’s all we’ve worked on in any practice since we’ve been down here,” Ashworth said of the team’s doubles play.” “We just were not satisfied with where we were with our doubles. I thought that today we handled ourselves very well emotionally. Miami is a very emotional team and we knew that they would come out in the doubles and be very emotional. I was really happy that we met that challenge. The other thing that we’ve tried to do the last couple matches is play basic doubles and not try to be too creative and stay disciplined and make adjustments if we need to. I thought we did a really good job of just playing basic, smart doubles today.”
Duke went up 2-0 in the match after Miami’s Lohan, the seventh-ranked singles player in the nation, was forced to retire from her singles match against 90th-ranked Harris on court one.
Scholl was quick off the courts again in singles, downing Paternova of the Hurricanes by scores of 6-1, 6-0. Ranked 42nd in the country, Scholl moved to 18-5 on the season and 8-1 in dual match play. She also maintained Duke’s unbeaten mark on court three at 8-0.
Miami got on the board with a win by Perez-Somarriba in a battle of ranked players on court two. Perez-Somarriba, the 66th-ranked player in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association singles poll, and 23rd-ranked Chi were locked at 2-2 in the first set before Perez-Somarriba won 6-3. She also took the second set over Chi, 6-1, to trim the Blue Devils’ lead in the match to 3-1.
Duke countered with the deciding victory from the sixth spot, as Hamlin triumphed over the Hurricanes’ Culbertson, 6-2, 6-4. Trailing 4-2 in the second set, Hamlin finished strong, earning her second dual meet victory of the season.
The two remaining courts both featured third set super tiebreakers. Smith dropped a 6-1, 4-6, 1-0 (8) decision to Fuentes in the No. 5 spot before 79th-ranked McCarthy closed out the match on a high note. She cruised to a 6-1 first-set win over Miami’s Madcur on court four before Madcur responded with a 7-5 victory in the second set. McCarthy then went down in the super tiebreaker, 8-2, before storming back to knot the score at nine. The two went back and forth until McCarthy was able to seal the Blue Devil victory at 17-15.
“It was unbelievable,” Ashworth said of McCarthy’s super tiebreaker. “She was down 9-2 or 9-3 and at that point, you’re just trying to make the girl hit winners to beat you. And then it started getting 9-4, 9-5, 9-6. Kaitlyn moved back up in the court and played more aggressively, and that’s where she played the first set. At that point it just started going back and forth. But she did a great job of staying in it and competing. It was unbelievable to see that. Rarely you get a tiebreaker go 17-15. That was awesome.”
Duke returns to action Friday against Virginia for a 3:30 p.m. first serve. It will be the Blue Devils’ first home match of the month.
No. 18 Duke 5, No. 29 Miami 2
March 19, 2017 at Coral Gables, Fla. (Neil Schiff Tennis Center)
1. #34 Meible Chi/Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) def. Silvia Fuentes/Dominika Paterova (UM) 6-4
2. Chalena Scholl/Alyssa Smith (DU) def. Ana Madcur/E. Perez-Somarriba (UM) 6-2
3. Sara Culbertson/Sinead Lohan (UM) vs. Ellyse Hamlin/Samantha Harris (DU) 5-6, unfinished
1. #90 Samantha Harris (DU) def. #7 Sinead Lohan (UM) 4-5, retired
2. #66 E. Perez-Somarriba (UM) def. #23 Meible Chi (DU) 6-3, 6-1
3. #42 Chalena Scholl (DU) def. Dominika Paterova (UM) 6-1, 6-0
4. #79 Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) def. Ana Madcur (UM) 6-1, 5-7, 1-0 (17-15)
5. Silvia Fuentes (UM) def. Alyssa Smith (DU) 6-1, 4-6, 1-0 (10-8)
6. Ellyse Hamlin (DU) def. Sara Culbertson (UM) 6-2, 6-4
Match Notes: Duke 9-3, 3-0 ACC; National ranking #18
Miami 4-7, 3-3 ACC; National ranking #29
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1); Singles (1,3,2,6,5,4)