No. 6 Duke advances to ACC women's tennis quarters
The sixth-ranked and fifth-seeded Duke women’s tennis team opened the ACC Tournament Thursday with a 4-0 sweep of 70th-ranked Wake Forest at the Cary Tennis Park.
The Blue Devils (22-3) advance to face fourth-seeded and 12th-ranked Clemson (20-5) in the quarterfinals at 9 a.m., Friday, April 25.
After dropping the doubles point in its final two regular season matches, Duke cruised on all three courts to claim the 1-0 lead early in the contest. Wake Forest won the opening game on the first and third courts, but the Blue Devils would only lose six other games the rest of the way.
“I thought we played pretty well,” commented Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth. “Our goal today was to get off the court as fast as we could with the possibility of playing four matches in four days. We had to get back to some simple things with our doubles and I thought we were able to do that. It was good to get off the court quick with the doubles. I thought we played pretty good in singles. Our focus all week was with our doubles. If we can win doubles points, we are going to put a lot of pressure on other teams. We really emphasized that all week and emphasized that this morning before we started.”
On court one, the fifth-ranked tandem of Beatrice Capra and Hanna Mar fell down 1-0, before charging back to take a 2-1 advantage. The Blue Devils would not trail the rest of the way against Wake Forest’s Xue Zhang and Kasey Gardiner. Capra and Mar led 4-3 and went on to win the next four games to close the match with an 8-3 victory. The duo collected a Duke-best 14th doubles win of the year.
Duke’s 30th-ranked duo of Ester Goldfeld and Alyssa Smith dominated action from the start opening a 4-0 advantage before dropping their first game, 4-1. The Blue Devils went on to improve to 10-2 by winning 8-2 and clinching the doubles point against Luisa Fernandez and Samantha Asch.
On court three, the Blue Devil 89th-ranked pair of Annie Mulholland and Chalena Scholl fell down 1-0 early to Kimm Guerin and Karen Forman. Mulholland and Scholl held a 3-2 advantage and then went on to win three straight games to lead 6-2. Wake Forest tried to make a run winning two games to cut the Duke advantage to 7-4 when the doubles point was clinched.
“The doubles was really good [today],” commented Capra. “We had a lot of energy and I thought we were all really supportive on all three courts. It is tough because we were playing on three different tiers. I could hear Annie and Chalena on the bottom court and I could hear Ester next to me. It was good communication throughout everybody today.”
Carrying the momentum after winning the doubles point, Duke jumped out to early leads in singles on four of the six courts.
On court six, senior Marianne Jodoin won her first five games to take a 5-0 lead and eventually won Duke’s first set, 6-3, against Zhang. Scholl, a freshman from Pampano Beach, Fla., also took an early lead on court four versus Asch winning the first set, 6-2. Both Jodoin and Scholl cruised to a 6-0 win in the second set to give the Blue Devils a 3-0 advantage.
A trio Duke standouts also won their first sets in singles action as seventh-ranked Capra, 26th-ranked Goldfeld and 35th-ranked Mar each posted victories. Capra, who is out of Ellicott City, Md., posted a 6-3, 6-0 win on court one versus Retolaza to improve to 27-7 and clinch the 4-0 win for the Blue Devils.
“I thought it was a really good match today,” said Capra. “Wake is always really tough to play. Overall as a team, we came out with a lot of energy. We played really well and were fired up. I think it was really good on everybody’s part today.”
At the time the match was clinched, Duke led on two of the three other courts. Goldfeld held a 6-3, 3-3 advantage on Fernandez on court two, while Mar was leading Guerin, 7-6, 3-3, on court three. Smith, a freshman out of Laguna Niguel, Calif., dropped her first set on court five, 6-7, and was tied, 1-1, in the second versus Gardiner.
“Everybody was kind of bummed as we had a rough weekend last week,” said Capra. “We are all really motived to come out and I think we proved that this morning.”
Duke and Clemson will meet for the second time over the last eight days. The Blue Devils traveled to the Lady Tigers Thursday, April 17 and dropped a 4-3 decision to Clemson. Duke had multiple match points but could not put the Lady Tigers away.