DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke women’s tennis team earned its 29th consecutive bid to the NCAA Team Championships and enter the event for the 30th time in school history, the NCAA announced Tuesday during its 2018 selection show. The Blue Devils were tabbed as a regional host site and will play the first and second rounds in Durham.
“It’s exciting,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “It’s what we play for all year. I know our girls are excited to get on the court and start preparing and to be able to play here, which is a huge thing for us. We’ve had a really good track record here the last two years and a really good track record in the NCAA Tournament here. Going into the season, one of the things you work for is being able to be at home for those first two rounds. We did a good job of that and we’ll be excited to play.”
Duke garnered the No. 3 seed in the tournament and is set to face Furman (19-8) in first round action Friday, May 11, in Durham, N.C. The match is set for a 4 p.m., start and marks the 13th time in program history Duke will face the Paladins. Tickets will be available for purchase online at www.goduke.com/tickets or on the day of the match at Ambler Tennis Stadium.
“We have seen them a little bit,” Ashworth said. “They’re extremely well coached. They play very smart, disciplined tennis. We’re very familiar with a couple of their girls that we saw in some of the fall tournaments. We’ll take some time and look at that and look at some of those results. They’re going to give us everything they have. They’ve played a lot of big matches, whether it’s an ACC team or an SEC team. I don’t think they’re going to come into Duke with any fear at all. They play very disciplined and are very well coached.”
In addition to Duke and Furman, Oregon (15-9) and Tennessee (18-11) will also compete in Durham next weekend, with the first match slated for Friday at 1 p.m. It is the second consecutive year that Tennessee will travel to Durham for the regional rounds. The winner of each contest will face off in second round competition Saturday, May 12, with the match beginning at 3 p.m. The regional winner will advance to the NCAA Team Championship Round of 16 in Winston-Salem, N.C.
“I think it’s a good regional for everybody,” added Ashworth. “With Oregon and Tennessee coming back here, both teams out of Power Five conferences. They don’t have that fear factor and have that nothing to lose mentality that they can take. We’re looking forward to every we play, but starting with Furman and having a good match in that one.”
Duke owns an all-time record of 62-28 (.689) when competing in the NCAA Championship. Last season the Blue Devils fell to rival North Carolina, 4-0, in the round of 16 of the national tournament. Duke has reached the NCAA’s main event in each of Ashworth’s 21 seasons with the program, amassing a record of 53-20 (.726) over that span. In 2009, Duke won the national championship with Ashworth at the helm.
Duke enters the NCAA Team Championship with a 22-3 overall record, surpassing 15 wins for the 20th time in Ashworth’s 21 seasons. Most recently, the Blue Devils fell to second-ranked North Carolina, 4-2 during the final round of the ACC Tournament.
Currently ranked third in the Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) ledger, the Blue Devils placed five singles players and two doubles pairs among those nationally ranked.
Senior Samantha Harris leads Duke’s ranked players, standing at No. 6. Not far behind is freshman Kelly Chen, who is No. 28, with sophomore Meible Chi at No. 54. Rounding out the group are juniors Kaitlyn McCarthy (No. 105) and Ellyse Hamlin (No. 118).
In doubles, Harris and Chen garnered the No. 5 ranking in the latest ITA poll, while the pairing of McCarthy and Hamlin earned the No. 12 spot.