DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 3 Duke women’s tennis team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Team Championships with a comfortable 4-0 win over Furman on Friday afternoon in Ambler Tennis Stadium.
“We’ve been in such a match mode, playing match after match, so I think there was a little bit of trying to get our feet under us and trust our swings,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “In the second sets, we were more dominating and were able to close them out a little easier. But Furman’s a really good team. They’re well-coached and get a lot out of what they have. They had a great year. They listen and play smart tennis. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy match, but I knew that if we played how we’re capable of, that we have a little more talent than they do.”
Duke improves to 24-3 on the season and has now won 26 straight home matches, tied for the third longest streak in school history. Furman closes its season with a 20-9 record.
Coming off a layoff of 12 days, the Blue Devils did not show much rust during the doubles play. On court one, Kaitlyn McCarthyand Ellyse Hamlinstayed undefeated in postseason play with a 6-3 win over Katarina Kozarov and Aryn Greene. Samantha Harrisand Kelly Chenwere not far behind with a 6-3 win of their own, beating Danni Vines and Katty Weymouth to clinch the doubles point.
The Blue Devils’ dominance continued in the singles portion of the match. Playing her first career NCAA Tournament match, the Chen was the first Blue Devil out of the gates, dropping just one game in each of her sets. The reigning ACC Freshman of the Year earned Duke’s second point by beating Vines 6-1, 6-1.
Finishing within seconds of each other was the doubles tandem of McCarthy and Hamlin. Both had dominant second sets, with neither dropping a single game. McCarthy beat Weymouth 6-2, 6-0 for Duke’s third point and then Hamlin clinched the match with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Carol Elizabeth Kerman.
Although she did not complete her match, Meible Chihad an impressive effort against Kozarov on court one. The match belonged to Kozarov in the early going, with the Furman player winning the first five games. With Chi on the brink of dropping the first set, the sophomore from Weston, Fla., refused to back down, winning six straight games to take the lead and finally winning the set in a tiebreaker.
Also leading their individual matches before Duke clinched were Hannah Zhaoand Rebecca Smaller. Zhao led Georgie Walker 7-5, 0-1 while Smaller, playing in her second match of the year, was up against Gabby Rodriguez 6-4, 3-2.
Duke will play one final home match of the season when the Blue Devils host Oregon on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. A trip to the Round of 16 in Winston-Salem, N.C., will be on the line.
“Tomorrow will be a little bit cleaner, with a little bit more energy,” said Ashworth. “I think we know that as we move along, we have to play better. As we get opportunities to close out points against better teams, we have to take advantage of that. As long as we continue on this same path of playing with energy and playing focused, we’ll let the results take of themselves.”
#55 Meible Chi (DUKE) vs. Katarina Kozarov (FUR) 7-6 (8-6), unfinished