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Courtesy: Duke Athletics
Ellyse Hamlin (left) and Samantha Harris
Women’s Tennis Falters at No. 3 North Carolina, 5-2
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 04/19/2017
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The 15th-ranked Duke women’s tennis team took an early lead over No. 3 North Carolina after edging the Tar Heels in doubles, but ultimately fell by a 5-2 score Wednesday at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center.

The loss was the first in ACC play for the Blue Devils, snapping a 13-match winning streak and dropping the squad to 11-1 in league action. The Tar Heels match Duke with an 11-1 ACC ledger. No. 6 Georgia Tech remains the only unbeaten league squad heading into the final weekend of the regular season. Duke hosts the Yellow Jackets on Sunday for Senior Day.

The Blue Devils grabbed the early 1-0 lead with a thrilling tiebreak victory from Samantha Harris and Ellyse Hamlin on court three in doubles action.

With Duke and North Carolina both holding one doubles victory apiece, the crucial doubles point came down to Harris and Hamlin. The match was a nip and tuck affair with both teams trading service breaks to leave the contest even at 5-5.

Harris and Hamlin held serve to go ahead 6-5, but the Tar Heels’ Jessie Aney and Rachel James-Baker responded by winning the final two points of the game to push the match to a tiebreak. The Blue Devils battled to a 4-1 lead in the tiebreak, but the Tar Heels refused to give in as they got two points back on their serve to make it 4-3. Duke responded in fashion with a strong service game from Hamlin to set up match point at 6-3. Harris finished it off for the Blue Devils with a volley down the middle to clinch doubles point. 

“It was big that we were able to win the first game on every court,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “We talked before the doubles about being disciplined and going after good targets and not trying to force something that wasn’t there. I thought all three teams did a really good job of that.”

The tandem of Chalena Scholl and Alyssa Smith were the first off the court, making quick work of Tar Heel duo Cassandra Vazquez and Alexa Graham in a 6-2 victory on court two. The teams traded the first four games before Scholl and Smith caught fire with four straight games to pick up their 14th win as a pair and move to 7-2 in ACC action.

The Tar Heels quickly evened the doubles action as 35th-ranked Hayley Carter and Sara Daavettila used a late break to come away with the 6-3 victory over Duke’s 45th-ranked tandem of Meible Chi and Kaitlyn McCarthy at the top spot.

North Carolina evened the match with a victory on court six in singles as Chloe Ouellet-Pizer handed Smith a 6-1, 6-2 loss.

The Tar Heels took a 2-1 lead behind a 6-3, 6-3 win by 31st-ranked Aney over Scholl on court three. The loss marked the first of the season in ACC play for Scholl, the 56th-ranked player in the latest Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association singles poll. Scholl fell to 26-6 overall and 11-1 against league foes.  

Court three brought North Carolina’s lead to 3-1 after No. 94 Makenna Jones defeated Hamlin 6-3, 6-1.

The Tar Heels took the match as second-ranked Carter took a victory on court one over 85th-ranked Harris 7-5, 6-3. 36th-ranked Chi also played a close first set before falling to eighth-ranked Daavettila 5-7, 1-6, extending North Carolina’s lead to 5-1.

“Carolina is too good just to relax after the doubles,” Ashworth said. “They’re too experienced as a team … You know that they’re going to come out and compete and you know they’re going to fight. Those first sets at one and two, 7-5 and 7-5, they just played pressure points better than we did. 7-5 means we had some opportunities. On all the courts, UNC played the bigger points better. They were a little more patient. I think we tried to force shots into targets that weren’t good targets. So we just have to learn from that.”

The final remaining singles contest on court four featured a battle between 113th-ranked McCarthy and 55th-ranked Graham of the Tar Heels. McCarthy cruised to a 6-3 win in the first set and hung tough through a second set tiebreaker, 8-6. With the victory, the Duke sophomore improved to 23-5 overall and 12-0 in ACC play. She also extended her win streak to 15 consecutive singles matches.

"It’s definitely tough to play here with the courts being split and not knowing what was going on with the other courts," McCarthy said. "As far as I knew, we were winning or losing, it was just tight. I said at the beginning that the best thing I could do was focus on tennis and my match and try to do what I could to help the team. It’s definitely tough not knowing what’s going on. There is nothing I want more than to be ACC regular champions. Disappointing today but the fact that that is still on the table gives me a lot of excitement going into the weekend and hopefully I can put up a few more wins for the team."

The Blue Devils continue a busy week to close the regular season, returning to Ambler Tennis Stadium to host Louisville Friday at 5 p.m. Duke also welcomes Georgia Tech for Senior Day Sunday at 12 p.m.

#3 North Carolina 5, #15 Duke 2
Apr 19, 2017 at Chapel Hill, N.C. (Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center)

Singles competition
1. #2 Hayley Carter (UNC) def. #85 Samantha Harris (DU) 7-5, 6-3
2. #8 Sara Daavettila (UNC) def. #36 Meible Chi (DU) 7-5, 6-1
3. #31 Jessie Aney (UNC) def. #56 Chalena Scholl (DU) 6-3, 6-3
4. #113 Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) def #55 Alexa Graham (UNC) 6-3, 7-6 (6)
5. #94 Makenna Jones (UNC) def. Ellyse Hamlin (DU) 6-3, 6-1
6. Chloe Ouellet-Pizer (UNC) def. Alyssa Smith (DU) 6-1, 6-2

Doubles competition
1. #35 Hayley Carter/Sara Daavettila (UNC) def. #45 Meible Chi/Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) 6-3
2. Alyssa Smith/Chalena Scholl (DU) def. Cassandra Vazquez/Alexa Graham (UNC) 6-2
3. Ellyse Hamlin/Samantha Harris (DU) def Jessie Aney/Rachael James-Baker (UNC) 7-6 (3)

Match Notes:
Duke 17-4, 11-2; National ranking #15
North Carolina 25-2, 11-1; National ranking #3
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (6,3,5,1,2,4)
T-2:55 A-352

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