DURHAM, N.C. – A trio of Blue Devils were selected to represent Duke at the 2018 NCAA Singles Championship May 23-28 at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem, N.C., along with two Duke tandems who will compete in the 2018 NCAA Doubles Championship.
Samantha Harris, Kelly Chen and Meible Chi received at-large bids to compete in the 64-player singles field. It will be the first career appearance for Harris and Chen and the second for Chi, who reached the round of 32 in 2017. On the doubles side, Harris and Chen along with the duo of Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin will represent Duke in the 32-pair field. The three singles players and the two doubles pairings are the most Duke has had receive bids into the tournament since admitting the same amount in 2014.
“It should be something that our whole team is proud of,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “It’s not just the girls who are playing in the singles and doubles, the whole team should recognize and be proud of this. It’s the culmination of all the individual stuff that they’ve put in all year. Our attention and focus is on the team tournament first and the individual tournament comes second, but they will be prepared to have a great week in Winston-Salem once the team championship is over.”
Harris will be the No. 5 seed after turning in a strong senior campaign while playing at the No. 1 position in singles. She heads into NCAA Tournament play with a 29-12 mark in singles, going 14-6 in dual matches and 11-3 in the ACC. Harris’ 14 wins over ranked opponents are the most on the Blue Devil squad. The Melbourne, Australia native was the runner-up at the ITA Carolina Regional Championships and the ITA Fall National Championships. During the course of the year, she has climbed as high as No. 4 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) singles rankings and has been in the top-10 since Jan. 17.
Chen has compiled an overall ledger of 35-7, with the 35 wins the most on the squad and placing her fourth by a Blue Devil freshman. The rookie from Cerritos, Calif., has gone 22-1 in dual matches and became the first Duke freshman to win all 14 of her ACC matches. She is currently on a 17-match winning streak, which is tied for second-longest by a Blue Devil rookie. Chen has ranked among the top-30 in the ITA singles poll since Feb. 9 and has climbed as high as No. 22.
Chi will return to the NCAA Singles Championship for the second consecutive season. In 2017, Chi defeated Alabama’s Erin Routliffe 6-2, 6-3 in the round of 64 before falling to South Carolina’s Mia Horvit 6-4, 6-1 in the round of 32. Chi becomes the eighth Blue Devil to receive a bid to the singles tournament in each of their first two seasons. The Weston, Fla., product has served as the No. 2 Blue Devil for much of the season and has a 33-5 record this season, winning 23 straight matches from Nov. 6 to Apr. 8. She has been ranked in the ITA singles poll throughout the season and climbed as high as No. 20.
Along with participating in the singles tournament, Chen and Harris will enter into the doubles championship as a No. 5 through No. 8 seed. The pair went 24-6 this season and 14-4 in dual matches. They have a team-high nine wins against ranked opponents against just two losses. The pair reached the semifinals of the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships and the ITA Fall National Championships. Harris and Chen were ranked No. 1 in the first ITA doubles poll of the season, making them the first Blue Devils to top the ITA poll since Mallory Cecil did in 2009. They have stayed in the top-six for the entirety of the season.
After being named as an alternate for the 2017 edition along with Chi, McCarthy will enter into the doubles tournament this year, playing with Hamlin. The junior tandem will also be a No. 5 through No. 8 seed and has a team-high 26-7 record this season and are 15-5 in dual matches. Hamlin and McCarthy combined to win the Riviera/ITA All-American championship during the fall, the first collegiate Grand Slam title for Duke since Cecil won the 2009 NCAA singles title. Their 26 wins are tied for ninth all-time by a Duke duo in a single season.
On Tuesday, the NCAA announced that the Blue Devils received the No. 3 overall seed for the 2018 NCAA Team Championship and were selected as one of 16 regional host sites for first and second round action. Duke kicks off tournament play Friday, May 11 at 4 p.m., against Furman. Oregon and Tennessee will also compete in the Durham regional.