ALBANY, The Bahamas – The fourth-ranked Duke women’s tennis team opened the season on a high note with a 5-2 victory over ninth-ranked Oklahoma State Saturday evening on the program’s first international trip in The Bahamas. The trip also marked the first NCAA dual match played outside the United States.
“This was a great match,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “Oklahoma State is a great team and this was one of the toughest matches in my 20-plus years that we’ve opened the season against. I was impressed with how we kept our composure. We had two freshmen playing one doubles and they’ve only practiced together three times and beat a duo that is top-20 in the country. They did a great job. Kaitlyn [McCarthy] and Ellyse [Hamlin] picked up right where they left off last year and did a great job at two doubles. Oklahoma State is as talented in singles as any team we’ll see in the country. I was a little disappointed that we lost two matches very quickly to put us down 2-1. Meible [Chi] played an unbelievable match and this was Ellyse’s first match since May. She came through when we really needed her. It was an overall great team win.”
The Blue Devils got off to a hot start by securing the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead over the Cowgirls. It was the rookie duo of Margaryta Bilokin and Maria Mateas that got it done to get the doubles point as the unranked pair defeated No. 18 Sofia Blanco and Lisa Marie Rioux, 6-4, in a hard-fought battle.
Veteran doubles partners Hamlin and McCarthy gave Duke its first win of the day, cruising to a 6-1 win over Marina Guinart and Catherine Gulihur.
The Cowgirls fought back by taking the first two singles matches as Bilokin fell to No. 40 Guinart (6-3, 6-1) on court four before No. 73 Blanco defeated No. 58 McCarthy (6-2, 6-2) on court five to put the Blue Devils down, 2-1.
Duke would go on to win the next four singles courts as junior Chi, ranked No. 10 in the country, defeated Bunyawi Thamchaiwat (7-6 , 6-1) on court two. Eighth-ranked Mateas followed behind as she took down Rioux (6-2, 6-3) on court one just before Hamlin clinched the match on court six with a 7-5, 6-3) win over Tamara Arnold. No. 37 Kelly Chen captured the final point for Duke with a 7-6 (1), 3-6, 1-0 (10) win over the Cowgirls’ top-ranked singles player, No. 21 Katie Stresnakova.
“The trip overall was very successful, not just because of the win but we were able to get closer as a team,” Ashworth said. “We’ll go home and get a few really good practices in the next couple weeks.”
The fourth-ranked Blue Devils will return to the court Wednesday, Jan. 23 for a 3 p.m., matchup against Elon in Durham.
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1. Margaryta Bilokin/Maria Mateas (Duke) def. No. 18 Sofia Blanco/Lisa Marie Rioux (OSU), 6-4
2. Ellyse Hamlin/Kaitlyn McCarthy (Duke) def. Marina Guinart/Catherine Gulihur (OSU), 6-1
3. Tamara Arnold/Bunyawi Thamchaiwat (OSU) def. Kelly Chen/Meible Chi (Duke), 6-4
1. No. 8 Maria Mateas (Duke) def. Lisa Marie Rioux (OSU) 6-2, 6-3
2. No. 10 Meible Chi (Duke) def. Bunyawi Thamchaiwat (OSU) 7-6 (4), 6-1
3. No. 37 Kelly Chen (Duke) def. No. 21 Katie Stresnakova (OSU) 7-6 (1), 3-6, 1-0 (10)
4. No. 40 Marina Guinart (OSU) def. Margaryta Bilokin (Duke) 6-3, 6-1
5. No. 73 Sofia Blanco (OSU) def. No. 58 Kaitlyn McCarthy (Duke) 6-2, 6-2
6. Ellyse Hamlin (Duke) def. Tamara Arnold (OSU) 7-5, 6-3
Duke 1-0 | National Ranking #4
Oklahoma State 0-1 | National Ranking #9
Order of Finish: Doubles (2,3,1) | Singles (4,5,2,1,6,3)