CHARLOTTESVILE, Va. - The third-ranked Duke women's tennis team outlasted a relentless, 23rd-ranked Mississippi squad, 4-3, Friday morning in first round action at the ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championships.
In doubles, freshman Beatrice Capra and sophomore Rachel Kahan defeated Gabby Rangel and Erin Stephens, 8-1, in the No. 2 spot, while senior Monica Gorny and sophomore Hanna Mar took down Caroline Rohde-Moe and Julia Jones, 8-2, in the No. 3 spot to clinch the doubles point for the Blue Devils. Freshman Ester Goldfeld and junior Mary Clayton trailed the nation's fourth-ranked tandem of Kristi Boxx and Abby Guthrie, 7-4, in the No. 1 spot, but the match went unfinished after Duke notched the doubles point.
"We played really great doubles," said head coach Jamie Ashworth. "That was the best match at No. 2 doubles we played all year. We played well at No. 3, and we found a way to stay in No. 1 to not let them get any momentum."
In singles action, Goldfeld defeated Stephens, 6-2, 7-5, in the No. 3 spot to put Duke ahead 2-0 on the scoreboard. The Rebels responded however, as Guthrie upset the 66th-ranked Clayton, 6-2, 6-2, at No. 5 singles, and Jones collected a 6-4, 6-4 victory over the 118th-ranked Kahan in No. 4 singles to tie the match at 2-2.
The No. 1 singles match pitted the seventh-ranked Capra against Ole Miss' 12th-ranked Boxx, but Capra made easy work of the Rebels' top singles player, winning 6-4, 6-1, to put Duke back on top, 3-2.
Ranked 38th in the nation, Mar took on the Rebels' 54th-ranked Rohde-Moe in No. 2 singles. Mar led 3-2 in the first set, but Rohde-Moe battled back to take the final four games and take the first set, 6-3. Rohde-Moe eventually won the second set 6-4 to claim the win and re-tie the match at three-all.
The No. 6 singles match between freshman Annie Mulholland and the Rebels' Vivian Vlaar turned into the deciding contest with the overall score tied. Mulholland won the first set 6-3, and led 4-2 in the second, before Vlaar fought back to claim the set, 7-6 (7-2), and force a deciding third frame.
Mulholland, a Portland, Ore. native, jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the final set before Vlaar tied it at three. Mulholland broke through from the tie to take the final three games and clinch her first-career match for the Blue Devils.
"In singles, they came out and played better than we did," Ashworth said. "They got out to better starts and competed well the entire match. Every match is tough here, so you can't afford to dig yourself into holes like that. We gutted out this win. We were fortunate to win. Our three freshmen gave us three wins in singles, which was encouraging because we weren't sure how they were going to perform here. Now that we have a match under our belts, hopefully we come out and play better tomorrow."
Duke advanced to Saturday's quarterfinal round, where the Blue Devils will take on 10th-ranked Michigan, who defeated 15th-ranked Clemson, 4-0, in the first round. First serve is set for 12 p.m.