DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke women’s tennis team makes its 29th consecutive NCAA Team Championship appearance on Friday, May 11, against the Furman Paladins (20-8) at 4 p.m., inside Ambler Tennis Stadium. Duke, the No. 3 overall seed, will host its third straight regional.
Should Duke (22-3) advance past the Paladins Friday afternoon, it would face the winner of the Oregon (15-9) and Tennessee (18-11) match at 3 p.m., Saturday May 12.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for seniors 62 and over or students with ID. Tickets will be available for purchase online at www.goduke.com/tickets or on the day of the match at Ambler Tennis Stadium.
Series vs Furman
Friday’s match will be the 13th meeting between Duke and Furman, with Duke having won all 12 previous matchups. The last time the Blue Devils topped the Paladins was in 2014, with Duke winning 7-0. It will be the second meeting in the NCAA Tournament, as Duke knocked off Furman 4-0 in the first round in the 2004 tournament. That match was also played in Durham. Duke has shutout Furman in 10 of the 12 meetings and the Paladins have never scored more than one point. Not only has Duke never lost to Furman, but the Blue Devils are 23-0 all-time against Southern Conference members.
Furman has a 20-8 record this season and won the Southern Conference Championship to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. The Paladins bring a 13-match winning streak to Durham and have not lost since March 9. Katarina Kozarov is 18-5 this season and has played all of her matches at position No. 1. Along with Kozarov, Katty Weymouth (17-11), Danni Vines (16-11), Carol Elizabeth Kerman (14-6) and Georgie Walker (14-9) have all won double-digit matches. In doubles, Vines and Weymouth have a team-high 10-8 record while Kerman and Walker have a 9-0 mark.
“They’re very well coached,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “He (Furman head coach Adam Herendeen) does a great job of getting the most out of their talent. I think it’s more important that we worry about ourselves and what we’re doing rather than what other teams are doing. For Furman, the biggest thing for me and for our team, is not having played in 12 days which is a long break for us. I think it’s important for us to come out in doubles and try to set the tone for the entire match. Really focus on the first three games of that doubles. We want to come out with energy and passion and pride, which are all things we talk about and in that normal match routine we do, but we haven’t been in that situation in 12 days. Getting our feet under us right away in pressure situations can help us out a lot.”
Series vs Oregon
Should Duke and Oregon meet on Saturday, it would be the first meeting between the two programs. Duke has an all-time record of 29-19 against Pac 12 opponents.
The Ducks are ranked 33rd in the ITA team rankings and have a 15-9 record. Oregon finished 5-5 in the Pac 12 and reached the quarterfinals of the Pac 12 Tournament. The Ducks have a pair of players ranked in the singles poll with Alyssa Tobita checking in at No. 42 and Shweta Sangwen at No. 87. Tobita is 18-11 overall and is 11-7 on court one. The Ducks have seven different players with at least 10 wins. Oregon have a pair of ranked doubles duos as well. The tandem of Tobita and Sangwen are ranked No. 34 while Sangwen has combined with Julia Eashet to be ranked No. 74. Tobita and Sangwen have a team-best 13-6 doubles record while Tobita has also teamed with Rifanty Kahfiani to go 12-4.
Series vs Tennessee
Duke and Tennessee have met 21 times, with Duke holding an 18-3 edge. The last time the two teams met was in the 2017 NCAA Second Round when the Blue Devils claimed a 4-1 win to advance to the Round of 16. Duke has won its past 16 matches against the Volunteers. Meible Chi, Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin are all 1-0 against Tennessee after winning singles matches last season.
The Volunteers are ranked No. 38 in the ITA rankings and have the No. 40 doubles pair in Ariadna Riley and Kaitlin Staines. Tennessee is 18-11 this season and most recently lost in the second round of the SEC Tournament. Gabby Schuck leads Tennessee with a 24-10 singles record, although she has spent the majority of dual season playing on courts four and five. Riley and Staines have a 15-4 doubles record while Schuck and Sadie Hammond have gone 20-9.
“It’s something we talk about, the value you have to place on every point you play” Ashworth added. “Every time you step on the court, you’re playing for the life of this team. This team has been great and has risen to every challenge they’ve been presented so hopefully that continues and hopefully, whether we win, lose or whatever it is, we play to the level we’re capable of. Understanding that everyone is 0-0 right now and everyone is in the same situation, so we’re fighting for our lives every time we play. You can’t leave anything on the court for the next day. You have to win the first day before worrying about what comes next. We can’t look to Oregon or Tennessee before we get past Furman.”
Strong at Home
Duke is 25-1 in NCAA Tournament matches held in Durham and the Blue Devils have advanced out of the regional round 12 out of the 13 times that they have hosted.
“It’s huge being at home” Ashworth said. “This has been a great place for us the past couple of years. Not having to worry about travel and just the familiarity of being here. Hopefully we get a good crowd this weekend. That’s one of the things we work for and is one of our goals, is being able to play these matches at home. Now that we’ve done that, we have to take advantage of that.”
Duke has also won 25 straight matches at home, dating back to a 4-2 loss to Texas in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. With two wins this weekend, Duke would complete the eighth undefeated home campaign under Ashworth and it’s 27 straight home wins would be the third longest streak in program history. Overall, Duke is 90-8 (.918) at home over the last seven seasons.
After winning the ACC regular season championship, the Blue Devils cleaned up when the ACC conference awards were announced. For the third time, Ashworth was named the ACC Coach of the Year after guiding Duke to a 13-1 ACC mark and a spot in the ACC tournament final. Joining Ashworth in winning an individual award was Kelly Chen who won ACC Freshman of the Year after becoming the first rookie Blue Devil to go 14-0 in the ACC.
Duke also had five players on the All-ACC teams. Samantha Harris became the 13th Blue Devil to be named All-ACC in all four seasons of her career when she earned a spot on the first-team All-ACC team. On the second team was Chen and Chi, Chi being named All-ACC for the second time in her career. Hamlin and McCarthy found spots on the third team, each earning the second All-ACC honor of their career.
Five in the NCAA Individual Tournament
Five Blue Devils earned bids to the NCAA Singles and Doubles Tournaments. In the singles, Harris, Chen and Chi will all represent Duke. It will be the first appearance for Harris and Chen while Chi will return after playing in the 2017 edition. Harris and Chen will also be competing in the doubles bracket as a tandem, as will Hamlin and McCarthy.
Blue Devils in the NCAA Team Tournament
Five Blue Devils have experience playing in the NCAA Team Tournament. Here is a closer look at the five’s singles and doubles record in the NCAA’s premier team event.
NCAA Tournament Streak
With its bid to the NCAA Tournament this season, Duke has now made the big dance for 29 straight years and 30 of the past 31. Duke’s streak of 29 straight bids is the seventh-longest current active streak and is the longest among ACC schools.