DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 1 Duke women’s tennis team earned its first conference win of the season after defeating visiting Syracuse, 6-1, at Ambler Tennis Stadium in Durham, N.C., on a gorgeous, albeit windy Sunday afternoon. Sunday’s contest marked the first outdoor match of the conference season for the Blue Devils, with the windy conditions playing a role in the competition.
“Most of the rest of the outdoor season will be outdoors, so we’ll have to learn to deal with the elements, with wind and everything else that goes on around here,” Duke women’s tennis head coach Jamie Ashworth said.
In doubles play, the No. 16 duo of juniors Annie Mulholland and Ester Goldfeld posted a strong performance at the No. 2 position. After the Syracuse tandem of Amanda Rodgers and Breanna Bachini held serve to open the match, Mulholland and Goldfeld won five consecutive games, leading the Orange, 5-1. Syracuse held serve to bring the match to 5-2. Goldfeld and Mulholland surrendered one additional game before closing out on court 2, winning 8-3.
The team of senior Marianne Jodoin and freshman Alyssa Smith improved to 9-1 on the season after securing the doubles point on court 3 with an 8-4 victory. After each doubles pair held and broke serve, Jodoin and Smith won three consecutive games to bring the match to 5-2. The Blue Devil tandem rebounded after having their serve broken, winning two games in a row to lead 7-3. After dropping a game, Jodoin served out to win the match, 8-4, and clinch the first point for Duke.
The No. 6 pair of sophomore Beatrice Capra and senior Hanna Mar faced a game Syracuse tandem in Maddie Kobelt and Valeria Salazar on court 1. The match remained unfinished, with the contest tied, 6-6.
The momentum from doubles play carried over to singles action, with all six Duke singles players winning the first set on their respective court.
The 42nd-ranked Mar opened singles competition in the No. 3 position with a 6-2 first set victory over Syracuse’s Rhiann Newborn. After Newborn held her first serve, Mar strung together five consecutive games to lead 5-1. Mar dropped just one additional game before serving out the first set. Mar continued her dominant performance in the second set, surrendering a single game to Newborn, winning the second set, 6-1. Mar’s 6-2, 6-1 victory earned Duke its first singles point and put the Blue Devils up, 2-0, over the Orange.
On court 6, the 115th-ranked Jodoin put together a strong 6-1 first set against Syracuse’s Komal Safdar. After breaking Safdar’s serve and holding to lead 2-0, Safdar held her second serve. Jodoin did not drop another game in the first set. The Varennes, Quebec, native remained consistent in her second set. With Jodoin and Safdar tied at two games apiece, Jodoin won two consecutive games to take a 4-2 lead. Jodoin and Safdar exchanged two games each, leading to a 6-4 second-set win for Jodoin, leading to her 16th singles victory this season.
No. 20 Goldfeld, playing in the No. 2 position, fell behind early, 0-2, against Syracuse’s Amanda Rodgers, before responding by winning four consecutive games. Goldfeld and Rodgers exchanged games, with Goldfeld leading 5-3. After Rodgers held her serve to come within one game of Goldfeld, the Brooklyn, N.Y., native served out the first set, 6-4. After Goldfeld and Rodgers sat tied, 2-2, in the second set, Goldfeld settled in and won four straight games, winning the second set, 6-2. Goldfeld improved to 17-6 on the season following the 6-4, 6-2 victory. Goldfeld’s win secured the victory for Duke, as the Blue Devils led, 4-0.
Mulholland, in the No. 5 position, improved to 7-5 on the season after defeating Syracuse’s Breanna Bachini, 6-1, 6-4. Mulholland jumped out to a 2-0 lead on court 5 before Bachini won her only game of the first set. Mulholland settled in and won out the remaining four matches to take the first set, 6-1. In the second set, Mulholland fell behind early, down 0-3 to Bachini. The Portland, Ore., native battled back, however by winning four consecutive games to bring the second set to 4-3. Mulholland dropped just one additional game before closing out on court 5 with a 6-4 second set.
Freshman Chalena Scholl, competing in the No. 1 position for the first time in her collegiate career, battled back from a 1-3 deficit in the first set to tie Syracuse’s Maddie Kobelt, 3-3. After Kobelt held serve, bringing the match to 3-4, Scholl strung together three consecutive games to take the first set, 6-4. Scholl opened a 4-1 lead over Kobelt in the second set. Kobelt responded by winning four consecutive games of her own, leading the match, 5-4. Kobelt remained the aggressor, forcing a tiebreak after winning the second set, 7-5. Although Scholl fought valiantly in the tiebreak, coming from behind in a number of instances, including tying the game at 9-9, Scholl could not hold on, dropping the tiebreak to Kobelt, 11-9.
No. 96 Smith, facing Syracuse’s Valeria Salazar on court 4, earned a hard-fought first-set win, 7-6. After each singles player traded serves over the first six games, Smith had her serve broken, as Salazar took a 3-4 lead. Smith responded by breaking Salazar’s serve in the subsequent game. Smith and Salazar broke one another’s serve once more, before a 6-6 tiebreak. Smith recorded a strong 6-3 showing in the tiebreak to take the first set. Smith continued her strong play in the second set, winning 6-4, to close out the 6-1 victory for Duke.
“Today was our first step in trying to get better,” Ashworth said. “We have to have a good week of practice. We have two tough matches next weekend with Notre Dame and North Carolina again. We’ll have to see where [the loss to Virginia] takes us.”
Duke returns to competition Friday, Feb. 28, welcoming Notre Dame to the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. The match is scheduled for 6 p.m.
1. Maddie Kobelt (SU) def. Chalena Scholl (DU) 4-6, 7-5, 11-9
2. #20 Ester Goldfeld (DU) def. Amanda Rodgers (SU) 6-4, 6-2
3. #42 Hanna Mar (DU) def. Rhiann Newborn (SU) 6-2, 6-1
4. #96 Alyssa Smith (DU) def. Valeria Salazar (SU) 7-6, 6-4
5. Annie Mulholland (DU) def. Breanna Bachini (SU) 6-1, 6-4
6. #115 Marianne Jodoin (DU) def. Komal Safdar (SU) 6-1, 6-4
1. #6 Beatrice Capra/Hanna Mar (DU) vs. Maddie Kobelt/Valeria Salazar (SU) 6-6, unfinished
2. #16 Ester Goldfeld/Annie Mulholland (DU) def. Amanda Rodgers/Breanna Bachini (SU) 8-3
3. Alyssa Smith/Marianne Jodoin (DU) def. Komal Safdar/Rhiann Newborn (SU) 8-4