DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University women’s tennis head coach Jamie Ashworth has announced the signing of Christina Makarova and Rebecca Smaller, who are set to attend Duke in the fall of 2014.
“They’re both going to be great people on and off the court for us,” Ashworth said. “Christina and Rebecca have a lot of character. They both are academically oriented and they’ll fit really well into what we’re trying to do as well as into the Duke community. I think Duke as a whole sold both of them tremendously and it wasn’t just the tennis program. Both of them were excited about their experience here and the time they spent on campus, as well as the people they met away from the courts, which to me, is just as important. They’ll both be great on the court.”
Makarova, who ranks fifth among tennisrecruiting.net’s Top 100 Girls’ Class of 2014, currently owns a record of 23-10 this season, including a 3-0 ledger against five-star recruits. In her most recent matches, Makarova qualified for the main draw of the Women’s 25K professional event in Vero Beach, Fla., having won three rounds in qualifying, including a victory over the No. 1 ranked collegiate player, Robin Anderson of UCLA.
She also captured the individual title at the Costa Mesa Intercollegiate Classic in Costa Mesa, Calif., defeating No. 70 Emily Maxfield, 6-2, 6-4. The title marked the San Diego, Calif., native’s second tournament victory of the season, after Makarova opened her 2013 campaign with a win at the Copa Gatorade 2013 tournament in Venezuela. Makarova has faced quality competition leading to the start of her Duke career, competing in high-level events such as the Wimbledon Junior Championships in 2012 and the Australian Open Junior Championship in 2011. She also advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2010 Australian Open.
“Christina has had a really good junior career, winning a lot of matches at different levels, whether it’s at the junior level or professional matches,” Ashworth said. “She’s had a lot of success in junior tournaments around the world.”
Smaller, who hails from London, joins Duke as a three-time British National Schools Champion, as well as a silver medalist at the World Schools Championship in Australia. Smaller played in a significant number of doubles competitions in 2013, reaching the final round of doubles play in five tournaments and capturing doubles titles at the SunDays Luxembourg Outdoor Junior Open and the Vila Do Conde Junior Tennis Cup. Over the summer, Smaller competed in the Maccabiah Games in Israel claiming the gold medal in mixed doubles and the bronze medal in singles.
“Becky is someone whose rankings aren’t as high, but her work ethic will pay a tremendous amount of dividends down the road for her,” Ashworth said. “She’s someone who really wants to be here, which says a lot to me as a coach. She could have gone to other places and possibly started off higher in the lineups, but she really wanted to come to Duke. She recruited us, probably harder than we recruited her and when it came down to it, that said a lot about her as a person. Someone who really wants to be here is going to get a lot out of Duke, not just in tennis, but in academics and the experiences that Duke offers.”
The start of the 2014 dual-match season is just days away, but Ashworth is also excited for the prospects of future success with the addition of Makarova and Smaller joining the Blue Devil squad, and is confident the duo will contribute for Duke starting in the fall of 2014.
“Our goals will remain the same and true to our program,” Ashworth said. “We want to be able to be one of the best teams in the conference and the country. I think that with [Makarova and Smaller], along with the group that we have returning, we can definitely do those things.”
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