WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – In the NCAA Doubles Quarterfinals, Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin of the Duke women’s tennis team turned in a come-from-behind win to advance on Saturday afternoon at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex.
“They lost a tight first set, where they had some opportunities,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “To come back and get a break early in that second set was big. They just competed. (Assistant coach) Matt (Manasse) kept saying you guys are warriors. They had to fight and scrap and they did a good job doing that and once they got the lead, they were able to run with it. They played free and aggressive and it looked like that they were just having fun which is important. They didn’t let the moment get to them and did a good job of handling it.”
McCarthy and Hamlin, seeded No. 5 through No. 8, matched up against Vanderbilt’s Fernanda Contreras and Astra Sharma in the quarterfinals. In the first set, neither team could get more than a game of separation. The two duos battled back and forth until Contreras and Sharma were able to pull out a 7-5 first set win.
In the break between sets, McCarthy and Hamlin did not panic and came out determined to force a third set. After splitting the first two games, Duke’s junior duo turned on the jets, breaking Vanderbilt in the fourth game and winning five straight games overall for a dominant 6-1 second set win.
“I told Ellyse going into the second set,” said McCarthy. “If we could tighten it up, we could see things swing in our favor. That was definitely the case in the second set. We started making a few more shots and covering the right shots."
The match was determined by a third set tiebreaker with the winning team needing to reach 10 points. Duke’s momentum from the second set carried over into the tiebreaker as McCarthy and Hamlin led 4-2 before the teams switched sides. Playing with the lead, the pair continued to push ahead, carrying an 8-4 lead into the second break. Finally, Vanderbilt hit the match point into the net to finish a 5-7, 6-1, 1-0 (10-5) victory.
“We just kept going forward as well,” Hamlin said. “We never took our foot off the gas and went through the finish line.”
McCarthy and Hamlin will meet Oklahoma State’s Vladica Babic and Sofia Blanco with a spot in the national championship game on the line. The match is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m. They are the first Duke pair to play in the semifinals since Beatrice Capra and Hanna Mar in 2014.
“Every match we play is such a special thing, being as we’re best friends off court,” McCarthy added. “We’re just enjoying playing together and not looking too far in advance.”
2018 NCAA Div. I Women’s Singles Championship May 23-28, 2018 at Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wake Forest Tennis Complex)
Round of 16
No. 18 Anna Danilina (Florida) def. No. 28 Kelly Chen (Duke) 2-6, 7-5, 6-2