With two wins in Florida already under its belt this week, Duke looked to cap off a busy stretch in the Sunshine State with a win against Miami.
Despite a singles loss from its highest-ranked player, the Blue Devils did just that in convincing fashion to run their winning streak to five.
After easily dispatching Florida Gulf Coast and Florida State earlier in the week, No. 18 Duke pushed past the Hurricanes 5-2 Sunday at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center in Coral Gables, Fla. The Blue Devils quickly put away the doubles point then got dominant singles performances from senior Chalena Scholl and sophomore Ellyse Hamlin to take down a team that had to concede a point at No. 1 singles due to injury.
“As a whole, we’re getting better,” Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth told GoDuke.com. “This trip was great in that sense. To come down and win in two of the tougher places to play—Florida State and Miami—that’s great for us. I told [the team] after, we’ve had some of our best teams come down to Miami and not be able to win matches, so we have to build on it and be proud of how we competed and how we fought.”
As was the case all week, the Blue Devils (9-3, 3-0 in the ACC) controlled doubles.
On Court 2, Duke’s senior tandem of Scholl and Alyssa Smith put down Miami’s Ana Madcur and Estela Perez-Somarriba 6-2 in routine fashion.
The Blue Devils' top tandem at No. 1 doubles was not far behind, with Duke’s No. 34 duo of freshman Meible Chi and sophomore Kaitlyn McCarthy up against Silvia Fuentes and Dominika Paterova. Miami (4-7, 3-3) started with a 3-1 lead, but Chi and McCarthy continued rolling as Ashworth's top tandem, reeling off three straight games and going on to win 6-4 to seal the doubles point.
“[Doubles] is all we’ve worked on in any practice since we’ve been down here,” Ashworth said. “We worked on it before the Florida State match, we worked on it after the Florida State match…. We did a really good job of just playing basic, smart doubles today.”
The Blue Devils then doubled their lead quickly at No. 1 singles when junior Samantha Harris, the No. 90 player in the nation, saw her opponent Sinead Lohan retire leading 5-4 in the first set. With the seventh-ranked player in the nation unable to finish her match, the home team was in deep trouble.
On Court 3, Scholl cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 victory to make it 3-0 Duke in a matter of minutes and stay unbeaten in conference play.
“Chalena played a great match,” Ashworth said. “It’s the best match she’s played in a long time. She was able to take that confidence from doubles and roll it into her singles and do it again.”
Miami got on the board at No. 2 singles when 66th-ranked Perez-Somarriba jumped on No. 23 Chi early and prevailed 6-3, 6-1. The Blue Devil rookie never found her footing in her first ACC loss, but Hamlin gave Duke the momentum right back by making the score 4-1 with a straight-sets victory on Court 6 that sealed the team victory.
Hamlin broke an early 2-2 tie by reeling off four straight games, then overcame an early 3-1 deficit in the second frame to prevail 6-2, 6-4.
The remaining singles matches with the outcome decided were endurance tests.
On Court 5, Smith and Silvia Fuentes split the first two sets before going to a third-set super tiebreaker. Tied 8-8 in the first-to-10 format, Fuentes made the final push to pull out a 6-1, 4-6, 1-0 (10-8) victory.
The final match of the day was even more dramatic, with No. 79 McCarthy looking poised to prevail up 6-1, 5-3. But Madcur found another gear, winning four straight games to fore another super tiebreaker, one that was a back-and-forth affair going well beyond the 10-point threshold. Although Madcur started hot in the tiebreaker, McCarthy rallied, then finally broke a 15-15 tie with two points to end the match.
“It was unbelievable,” Ashworth said. “[McCarthy] was down 9-2 or 9-3 and at that point, you’re just trying to make the girl hit winners to beat you. And then it started getting 9-4, 9-5, 9-6 and [Madcur] felt a little pressure… At that point, it just started going back and forth, but [McCarthy] did a great job of staying in it and competing.”
The Blue Devils will return home to host Virginia Friday and Virginia Tech Sunday as they look to keep rolling in conference play.