DURHAM, N.C. – The fourth-ranked Duke women’s tennis team kicks off the 2019 season Saturday, Jan. 12, at 4 p.m. (ET) against ninth-ranked Oklahoma State in The Bahamas. This marks the program’s first international trip and the first NCAA dual match played outside of the United States.
“We’re starting with a really good Oklahoma State team,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “This isn’t a typical season opener for us to start with a top-10 team in the country. There’s a lot of unknowns for both programs. We have a couple girls who have never been in a dual match situation before and it’s a different pressure than they’re used to. Oklahoma State will face the same thing with a couple girls coming in this semester. They are extremely well coached and have had great success over the past couple years. We went down to The Bahamas early and got some quality practice in but also spent time as a team and talked about upcoming goals for the season. We’re excited to get going and in talking with some of the girls individually, they know this is what we play for. We want to set the tone for our season with a good match Saturday.”
This will be the first time Duke will hit the courts after the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings came out earlier in the week.
Coming in with the highest Blue Devil ranking is freshman Maria Mateas, locking in at No. 8. Mateas participated in the ITA All-American and left California with a 4-1 overall ledger. The top-ranked rookie in the country secured three victories over nationally ranked foes, including No. 1 Makenna Jones of North Carolina in the semifinals of All-Americans.
Junior Meible Chi jumped 21 spots on the rankings list to No. 10 in the country following a solid fall. Chi played to an 11-3 overall record that included two victories over No. 11 Carla Touly of Florida State. Sophomore Kelly Chen and senior Kaitlyn McCarthy round out Duke’s showing in the rankings at No. 37 and No. 58, respectively. Chen secured a 6-2 fall ledger prior to December while McCarthy went 7-3 as the previously-ranked No. 84 in the nation.
This weekend also marks the first time we will see freshman Margaryta Bilokin in action in a Blue Devil jersey, as she signed to join the squad for the spring slate.
“Going international is something we haven’t done before,” Ashworth said. “There was a lot of planning, organizing and working with some great people in Albany and with the USTA (United States Tennis Association). Hopefully it goes well and is something we can do again in the future. We’ve done some different things before with Hawaii and Puerto Rico but being in a foreign country will be a new experience. It’s one we are very excited for.”
Oklahoma State was tabbed ninth in the country by the ITA and features three singles and two doubles teams.
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