DURHAM, N.C. - The third-ranked Blue Devils women's tennis team is set to host the ITA Kick-Off Weekend Jan. 26-27 at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. Duke will play host to No. 74 Wisconsin Saturday in the first round, with the winner slated to face the winner of a match between No. 60 Wyoming and No. 62 College of Charleston in the championship match on Sunday. The winner of the tournament will be one of 15 teams that advance to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Women's Team Indoor Championship, to be hosted next month by the University of Virginia.
"First of all we are excited to host," said head coach Jamie Ashworth. "It is a tribute to our team being able to host this the last couple of years, and it is a product of where we finished in the past. We had a decent crowd last week against William & Mary and we were excited about that so to have this at home should really help us and benefit our team."
The Blue Devils enter the weekend with a 1-0 record after cruising past William & Mary, 7-0 in their home opener Jan. 9. Against William & Mary, Duke rolled through every match without dropping a set, highlighted by a win in doubles by the duo of senior Mary Clayton and sophomore Ester Goldfeld who downed the third-ranked team from William & Mary of Maria Belaya and Jeltje Loomans, 8-1.
Junior Hanna Mar, ranked No. 10 in the country in singles, leads the way for the Blue Devils this spring after tallying a 14-3 record in tournament play, and topping Maria Belaya, 6-2, 6-1, in the home opener.
Senior Mary Clayton, ranked No. 53 in the most recent ITA poll, enters the weekend one career singles win shy of the prestigious 100-win club, a membership that only includes 20 other Blue Devils in the history of the program. Clayton, a native of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., has tallied a 99-31 (.762) career singles record to go along with a 24-5 career ACC record after finishing the 2012 conference slate with a perfect 9-0 mark. With a win, Clayton would tie Karen O'Sullivan ('97) for 20th on the all-time career wins list. Vanessa Webb leads the way with 161 wins in her career at Duke.
"Mary has done a great job over her career," Ashworth said. "In a dual match setting she has been really solid wherever we put her in the lineup, she is playing a little higher this weekend that she has in the past, but that is not something that she fears at all. She relishes those opportunities and usually plays better against better competition. I am excited for her, and it is definitely something that she has earned."
The Blue Devils will meet Wisconsin for the eighth time in program history with Duke owning the series record 6-1. The two teams last met Feb. 2, 2010 when the Blue Devils downed the Badgers, 6-1 in the third round of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Madison, Wisc. The match against Duke will be the season opener for the Badgers.
The ITA Kick-Off Weekend is being held at 15 universities around the country, and host universities were designated in order of their year-end 2012 Campbell/ITA team ranking. In Durham, No. 1 seeded Duke will host the No. 4 Wisconsin Saturday at 10 a.m. followed by a matchup of No. 2 seeded Wyoming facing No. 3 College of Charleston at 2 p.m. The winners of those matches will return to the courts Sunday at 4 p.m. to play for a berth at the ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championship.
"It is a great test to have two matches in two days," Ashworth said. "That is something that we have to get used to. The ACC tournament, the National Team Indoors, the NCAA Tournament, you are going to have to play two good matches in two days so this is kind of a start to that, and we will see how we handle that."
For live scoring or video of each match, please check GoDuke.com or follow women's tennis on twitter (@duke_WTEN).
Schedule of Events:
Saturday, January 26
10:00 AM - No. 1 Duke vs. No. 4 Wisconsin
2:00 PM - No. 2 Wyoming vs. No. 3 College of Charleston
Sunday, January 27
1:00 PM - Consolation Match
4:00 PM - Championship Match