CARY, N.C. - Playing at the same venue, on the same courts, against the same opponent for the second straight year, the second-ranked Duke women's tennis team defeated ninth-seeded N.C. State, 4-0, in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Tournament quarterfinals at the Cary Tennis Park on Friday morning.
"I thought that the intensity was good and the energy level was good," said head coach Jamie Ashworth.
In doubles action, Duke's 27th-ranked duo comprised of sophomore Rachel Kahan and freshman Beatrice Capra cruised to an 8-1 victory over Tatiana Illova and Nicole Martinez in the No. 2 spot, before senior Monica Gorny and sophomore Hanna Mar clinched the doubles point with an 8-2 victory in the No. 3 spot over Elisha Hande and Chloe Smith.
"I thought we came out nervous," Ashworth said of the team's composure to start singles play. "Five of the six people we had on the court had never played in the ACC Tournament before. I think you could see the difference from our first sets to our second sets. I think we got some nerves out, which we needed to do, and as the match progressed, we started playing better and better."
The Blue Devils wasted no time in singles, claiming first-set victories over N.C. State (8-16, 3-8 ACC) in five of the six matches. Junior and 74th-ranked Mary Clayton was the first one off the courts after picking up a quick 6-1, 6-1 victory over Smith in the No. 4 spot, improving her record to 31-10 in 2012.
Leading 2-0 in the overall match, freshman and 88th-ranked Monica Turewicz came out on top, 7-5, after a tough first set against Christy Sipes, before surging to a 6-0 sweep to close out the No. 5 singles match.
After being named the ACC Player and ACC Freshman of the Year just one day prior, Capra put on a dominating performance in the No. 1 singles match, defeating No. 31 Kissell, 6-0, 6-2, to clinch the overall match for Duke (23-2, 11-0 ACC). The victory was Capra's 25th of the season and improved her record to 16-3 against ranked opponents.
In a match that was decided in less than two and one half hours, Ashworth stressed the importance of getting a quick win after struggling through a long-lasting 4-3 triumph in the quarterfinals last season, only to be upset by Florida State the following day.
"In these kinds of situations, you want to get off [the courts] quickly and get as much rest as you can," Ashworth said. "Last year in this same position, we struggled with N.C. State. It came down to the last match, in a four-hour match, and I think it really hurt us the next day. One of our goals was to get off the courts and be as fresh as we could for tomorrow."
Duke will take on fifth-seeded Virginia (18-6, 7-4 ACC) tomorrow, Apr. 21, at 10 a.m., in the semifinals. The Blue Devils pulled out a tough 4-3 victory on the Cavaliers home courts in their regular season meeting back on March 23rd. Virginia defeated fourth-seeded Clemson, 4-1, in their quarterfinal matchup, Friday.
"They probably have more experience than anyone in the conference," Ashworth said of Virginia. "They definitely are not going to be intimidated at all walking on the court. They're going to walk on the court believing that they can win, and we have to match their energy level. We have to match their intensity. They play with a lot of spirit and a lot of fight, and we have to match that."
#2 Duke 4, N.C. State 0 Apr. 20, 2012 at Cary, N.C. (Cary Tennis Park)