No. 6 Duke downed No. 12 Clemson on Friday 4-0 in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals at Cary Tennis Park to set up a 10 a.m. semifinal today against No. 11 North Carolina, a 4-0 winner over unranked Florida State Friday.
Clemson, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, had shocked the then No. 1-ranked Blue Devils eight days earlier, pulling off a 4-3 stunner that started Duke on a two-match slide to end the regular season and cost the Blue Devils their lofty national ranking and dropped them to No. 5 in the ACC Tournament pecking order.
Today’s meeting between Duke (23-3) and top-seeded North Carolina (24-4) will mark the third time this season the two teams have met.
Duke beat the Tar Heels 5-2 in Durham on March 2 and 4-2 on Feb. 8 in the ITA National Team Indoors tournament.
On Friday, Carolina won the doubles point to take an early 1-0 lead. Ashley Dai and Kate Vaille were the first to finish on court three, while Jamie Loeb and Tessa Lyons followed soon after with a victory on court two to secure the opening point.
Singles play continued to favor the Tar Heels as Vialle and Lyons won in straight sets on courts five and six, respectively, for a 3-0 lead over the Seminoles.
From that moment it was a race between Jamie Loeb on court one and Caroline Price on court two for the final point of the morning. With both players up a set and leading 5-3 in the second, Price got the win first to clinch the 4-0 victory.
Nearby, Duke coach Jamie Ashworth liked what he saw of his Blue Devils against Clemson.
“I was pleased with the energy level and the commitment to that that we came out with more than anything else,” Ashworth said. “The play was good, but the intangible stuff like energy, not getting down [was great]. The commitment to that was really good and that was something that we talked about. We had played them eight days ago and we were flat when we played them. So we made a special emphasis on that today.”
Eight days earlier, the Blue Devils dropped the doubles point against Clemson (21-6) and that proved to be the margin of victory. But Duke wouldn’t let it happen again.
Duke’s Annie Mulholland and Chalena Scholl beat Clemson’s Jessy Rompies and Joana Eidukonyte 8-3 in No. 3 doubles, Beatrice Capra and Hanna Mar beat Yana Koroleva and Romy Koelzer at No. 1 and Duke’s Ester Goldfeld and Alyssa Smith were winning 7-5 over Beatrice Gumulya and Tristen Dewar at No. 2 when the point was won and their match suspended..
“It was huge,” Ashworth said of the No. 3 doubles victory. “We worked with them all week on some things — being a little more aggressive and a little more disciplined with their shot selections. They can both hit big shots but they tend to not be as smart or disciplined as they can be a lot of times. We really worked with that. Those two believed it would work and it was good.”
Clemson jumped on the Blue Devils at the start of singles play leading on courts one, four, five and six, but Duke didn’t panic.
Scholl came back from being down 3-2 in the first set to win 6-3. She never looked back against 115th-ranked Dewar cruising in the second set, 6-2, to put the Blue Devils ahead, 2-0. Scholl improved to 2-0 playing at No. 4 singles and 8-6 overall on the year.
On court three, Mar made quick work of Gumulya 6-1, 6-1 and the Blue Devils led, 3-0.
Duke dropped the first set on court one and trailed, 5-2, on courts five and six, but Capra, Smith and redshirt junior Rachel Kahan each battled hard to keep their matches going.
One of the turning points came on court two between Duke’s Goldfeld and Clemson’s Koelzer. Koelzer led 6-5 but Goldfeld battled back to win a tiebreaker 7-2 after tying the match at 6. Goldfeld rolled in the second set 6-1 to clinch the win for the Blue Devils, 4-0.
#11 North Carolina 4, #42 Florida State 0
1. #1 Jamie Loeb (UNC) vs. #123 Kerrie Cartwright (FSU) 6-4, 5-3, unfinished
2. #5 Hayley Carter (UNC) def. Daneika Borthwick (FSU) 6-2, 6-3
3. Whitney Kay (UNC) vs. Mia Vriens (FSU) 0-6, 5-5, unfinished
4. #111 Ashley Dai (UNC) vs. Daniela Schippers (FSU) 4-6, 1-5, unfinished
5. Kate Vialle (UNC) def. Kristina Schleich (FSU) 6-1, 6-3
6. Tessa Lyons (UNC) def. Laurence Porry (FSU) 6-2, 6-2
1. #10 Whitney Kay/Caroline Price (UNC) vs. #44 Daneika Borthwick/Kerrie Cartwright (FSU) 6-5, unfinished
2. Jamie Loeb/Tessa Lyons (UNC) def. Kristina Schleich/Duda Santos (FSU) 8-4
3. Ashley Dai/Kate Vialle (UNC) def. Mia Vriens/Daniela Schippers (FSU) 8-4
Florida State 15-11; National ranking #42
North Carolina 24-4; National ranking #11
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (5,6,2)