DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 4 Duke women’s tennis team continued its dominance, beating Louisville 6-1 on Saturday afternoon in Ambler Tennis Stadium.
Duke improves to 16-1 on the season and 8-0 in the ACC. Louisville is now 13-6 overall and 3-5 in conference. The Blue Devils have won 10 straight matches and 22 straight at home. The home winning streak is the fifth longest in program history and dates back to the beginning of the 2016-17 season.
For the second straight match, Duke needed to fight tooth and nail for the doubles point. On court two, Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin were tied with Ariana Rodriguez and Sena Suswam at three games apiece before the pair of Blue Devils won three straight to close out a 6-3 victory. On courts one and three though, Louisville led early and the Cardinals continued to lead 4-2 on both courts. Samantha Harris and Kelly Chen fought back to tie the score on court one against 51st-ranked Mariana Humberg and Abbie Pahz while Meible Chi and Hannah Zhao did the same against Raven Neely and Maya Smith. Chi and Zhao eventually pulled out the win, beating Neely and Smith 7-5 to clinch the doubles point for Duke.
“With the doubles, especially with the scoring, there’s such a fine line between winning and losing the matches,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “You get a lot of the three-all points, the no advantage points, so you just have to be better. That just comes back to the mental toughness stuff. We’re a strong team mentally. When it did get tight, including today when we were down in some doubles, I don’t think there’s any panic going on. We stayed mentally strong in those situations and that was definitely good to see.”
Just like Thursday’s match, after a tough doubles point, Duke wasted little time claiming the majority of the singles points. Hamlin and Chen cruised through their first sets, dropping just one game apiece. Both continued their strong play in the second, with Hamlin beating Neely on court five 6-1, 6-2, and Chen knocking off Tiffany Huber by the same score on court four.
On court one, Harris was tied with Aleksandra Mally 2-2 in both sets, but the Melbourne, Australia native won four straight games each time for a 6-2, 6-2 victory. It gives Harris 36 career ACC wins, putting her in a tie with Rachel Kahan for second all-time at Duke.
Continuing her winning streak was Chi. She beat Humberg 6-3, 6-3 for her 21st straight win. Chi has not lost in dual match season, going 17-0 and has not lost since Oct. 19.
Zhao won the final point for Duke by beating Suswam 6-3, 6-1.
The Blue Devils dropped just one point all day, but it came in a three set nail-biter. In an up and down first set, Pahz led McCarthy 3-0 and 5-3, but the final four games went McCarthy’s way to win the first set for Duke. The second set was reversed as McCarthy led early and Pahz had a comeback of her own to win the second set. In the third set tiebreaker, it took more than 10 points to separate the pair before Pahz eventually prevailed, giving her a 5-7, 6-4, 1-0 (13-11) win.
“We need to get back to some stuff with being able to finish balls,” Ashworth said. “With a really good Georgia Tech team next Friday, when we have opportunities to finish points, we need to be able to do it. Against really good teams or really good players, you might only get one opportunity to do it and when you get that point, you need to take it. We can’t expect four or five opportunities to win a point. That’s something this week in practice we definitely need to work on, is finishing points.”
After four straight home matches, Duke will hit the road for a match in Atlanta, Ga., against Georgia Tech on Friday, April 6, followed by a return home for a match with Clemson on Sunday, April 8.
1. No. 7 Samantha Harris (Duke) def. Aleksandra Mally (UL) 6-2, 6-2
2. No. 60 Meible Chi (Duke) def. Mariana Humberg (UL) 6-3, 6-3
3. Abbie Pahz (UL) def. No. 69 Kaitlyn McCarthy (Duke) 5-7, 6-4, 1-0 (13-11)
4. No. 29 Kelly Chen (Duke) def. Tiffany Huber (UL) 6-1, 6-2
5. No. 73 Ellyse Hamlin (Duke) def. Raven Neely (UL) 6-1, 6-2
6. Hannah Zhao (Duke) def. Sena Suswam (UL) 6-3, 6-1
1. No. 5 Samantha Harris/Kelly Chen (Duke) vs. No. 51 Mariana Humber/Abbie Pahz (UL) 6-5, unfinished
2. No. 6 Ellyse Hamlin/Kaitlyn McCarthy (Duke) def. Ariana Rodriguez/Sena Suswam (UL) 6-3
3. Hannah Zhao/Meible Chi (Duke) def. Maya Smith/Raven Neely (UL) 7-5
Louisville 13-5, 3-5 ACC
Duke University Women’s Tennis 16-1, 8-0 ACC; National ranking No. 4
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (5,4,1,6,2,3)