DURHAM, N.C. - The third-ranked Duke women's tennis team defeated 68th-ranked Illinois 6-1 Saturday evening in the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center, improving its record to 4-0 on the 2012 season. With the win, the Blue Devils earned one of 15 automatic bids to the ITA National Women's Indoor Championships, which will be hosted Feb. 10-13 by the University of Virginia.
"We hadn't played back-to-back matches all year," said head coach Jamie Ashworth, who picked up career win No. 342. "In order for us to be successful this year, whether it's this weekend or in two weeks in the next round of this, at the ACC Tournament or in the NCAA Tournament, we have to be able to put together back-to-back matches."
In doubles action, freshman Ester Goldfeld and junior Mary Clayton clinched the doubles point for the Blue Devils, upending Rachael White and Allison Falkin, 8-4, in the No. 1 doubles spot. Freshman Beatrice Capra and sophomore Rachel Kahan improved their doubles record to 4-0 with an 8-4 win over Breanne Smutko and Chelsea Abajian in the No. 2 doubles spot. Smutko and Abajian are currently ranked 27th as a doubles unit.
"I thought everybody did a really good job coming out with really high energy," said Capra. "For me, I thought I played really well today, especially when I'm looking around at everyone else playing really well. It kind of inspired me to play well today."
In singles play, seventh-ranked Capra dismantled Lambropoulos, 6-0, 6-1, in the No. 1 singles match, improving her singles record to 10-2 on the season. The Ellicott City, Md. native has now won eight consecutive singles matches.
"I've been trying to work on starting off the points really well, either attacking the second serve, and coming into the net and closing off the points," added Capra. "I thought I did that really well today."
Mar, ranked 38th in the nation in singles, picked up a 6-2, 6-3 win over Falkin in the No. 2 singles spot, clinching the overall match for the Blue Devils.
"I came to the net really well, and finished off points there," said Mar. "As soon as I stepped forward and moved in, that's when I was doing well."
Kahan, ranked 117th, found herself in a tough matchup against Kopinski in the No. 3 singles match. After winning the first set 6-4, the Unionville, Conn. dropped the second set, 6-3. The sophomore could not regain the momentum in the third set, as Kopinski went on to win it by a 6-1 count. The loss snaps Kahan's streak of 34 consecutive dual singles victories.
In the No. 4 spot, Goldfeld was also pushed to the brink by Amy Allin in the No. 4 singles spot. The Brooklyn, N.Y. native won the first set 6-4, but Allin fought back to take the second set, 6-2. Goldfeld won a tough third set, 6-4, to win the match.
Ranked 66th, Clayton won with ease in the No. 5 spot, 6-2, 6-0, over White. Freshman and 97th-ranked Annie Mulholland recorded her first-career dual singles victory in the No. 6 spot, defeating Misia Kedzierski, 6-4, 6-4.
Duke will host Northwestern next Saturday, Feb. 4 at 12 p.m. in the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.