DURHAM, N.C. – Returning to action for the first time in nearly two weeks, the 15th-ranked Duke women's tennis team opened NCAA Team Championship play on a strong note, dispatching Boston University 4-0 in Friday's first round. The Blue Devils weathered a lengthy rain delay to advance to a second round meeting with No. 24 Tennessee Saturday at 4 p.m. at Ambler Tennis Stadium.
“The one thing we talked about before both the doubles and the singles was being efficient,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “We weren't expecting to still be on the court after five hours. When we finally go on the court, I think we were pretty efficient. With back-to-back matches, we just wanted to get off the court as fast as we could.”
The Blue Devils got off to a fast start in doubles behind the play of junior Samantha Harris and sophomore Ellyse Hamlin on court three. The duo rolled past Boston University's Madison Craft and Iryna Kryloff by a 6-0 score for their sixth consecutive victory, improving to 14-5 overall and 8-3 in dual matches.
In the No. 1 matchup, Duke's 42nd-ranked tandem of sophomore Kaitlyn McCarthy and freshman Meible Chi jumped out to a 4-0 advantage against Barbara Rodriguez and Remi Ramos before putting away the contest at 6-2 to secure the doubles point for the Blue Devils. McCarthy and Chi moved their season ledger to 13-7 for the season with the win.
After inclement weather forced the match indoors, the teams moved into singles play. Duke maintained its momentum despite a break in the action, claiming first sets on all six courts. Hamlin was the first to wrap up her match, breezing by Boston University's Craft, 6-0, 6-1, in the No. 5 contest. The Blue Devil sophomore moved to 15-7 overall and 12-5 in dual matches with the victory.
“It's more of a mentality thing, but growing up playing junior tennis, this kind of stuff happens all the time,” Ashworth said of the two-plus hour delay. “You have to get yourself up to play pretty quickly. I think we handled ourselves pretty well.”
McCarthy and Chi then sealed the 4-0 win for Duke, finishing within minutes of each other on courts three and one, respectively. Ranked No. 99 in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association singles poll, McCarthy cruised to a 6-0 first set score over Rodriguez before taking the second set, 6-2. The decision pushed her singles win streak to 20 consecutive matches and put her season record at 28-5.
“We were just trying to really focus,” McCarthy said. “Having three people win first sets 6-0 really shifts the momentum in our favor.”
Chi, the 43rd-ranked player in the country, followed suit with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Kostirko in the No. 1 matchup to improve to 31-14 on the season.
With the match decided, the contests on courts two, four and six remained unfinished. Scholl was leading Ramos in a second set on court two, while Smith and junior Rebecca Smaller were both in the midst of second sets after winning their first sets on four and six, respectively.
Duke and the 24th-ranked Volunteers square off in the second round after Tennessee defeated Winthrop, 4-1, earlier on Friday. The Blue Devils hold a 17-3 advantage in the all-time series against the Volunteers, though the teams have not met on the courts since 2011.
“It's our mentality and being excited and being able to take advantage of the opportunity to be here at Duke against a feisty Tennessee team,” Ashworth said. “They make you hit a lot of balls. They scrap, they don't give up. They'll give everything they have.”
The advancing team out of Saturday's contest will travel to Athens, Ga., next week for the tournament's round of 16.
#15 Duke 4, Boston University 0
Durham, N.C. (Ambler Tennis Stadium/Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center)
1. #43 Meible Chi (DU) def. Iryna Kostirko (BOSTONU) 6-2, 6-3
2. #55 Chalena Scholl (DU) vs. Remi Ramos (BOSTONU) 6-2, 4-2, unfinished
3. #99 Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) def. Barbara Rodriguez (BOSTONU) 6-0, 6-2
4. Alyssa Smith (DU) vs. Sabrina Faybyshev (BOSTONU) 6-0, 3-5, unfinished
5. Ellyse Hamlin (DU) def. Madison Craft (BOSTONU) 6-0, 6-1
6. Rebecca Smaller (DU) vs. Sophia Kryloff (BOSTONU) 6-4, 3-5, unfinished
1. #42 Kaitlyn McCarthy/Meible Chi (DU) def. Barbara Rodriguez/Remi Ramos (BOSTONU) 6-2
2. Alyssa Smith/Chalena Scholl (DU) vs. Sabrina Faybyshev/Iryna Kostirko (BOSTONU) 4-4, unfinished
3. Samantha Harris/Ellyse Hamlin (DU) def. Madison Craft/Sophia Kryloff (BOSTONU) 6-0
Boston University 11-11
Duke 21-5; National ranking #15
Order of Finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (5,3,1)
NCAA Team Championship First Round at Duke University