Three days after a mass shooting rocked the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va., the Hokies will take the court against Duke in the first round of the ACC Tennis Championships in at noon Cary, N.C.
On Tuesday, Virginia Tech cancelled a number of its athletic events this week, including the annual spring football game. Teams taking part in postseason play, however, will continue on as scheduled.
Duke assistant coach Stephanie Nickitas said the matchup will be difficult for both teams in light of the recent tragic events.
"It's a very unfortunate situation," Nickitas said. "I feel so bad for all of them. It's probably going to be difficult for them to play."
Despite the ongoing events on the Hokies campus, play will go on after a moment of silence is observed.
Seventh-seeded Duke (10-9, 5-6 in the ACC) faces 10th-seeded Virginia Tech (12-12, 2-9) for a chance to play Georgia Tech in Friday's second round. Clemson (19-3, 10-1) is the top seed, while North Carolina (20-7, 8-3) enters as the tournament's third seed. The championship match will be contested Sunday.
"We have a lot to prove," Nickitas said. "Results-wise, we want to do a little bit better, and we have a great opportunity ahead of us. Every match is going to be difficult, but we feel that we are absolutely one of the best teams in the conference, and we're really excited to go out there and show it."
Nickitas said the team has been smoothing out its game recently.
"We had a really good practice this morning," Nickitas said. "We're working on refining some individual things. We're just trying to stay rested."
The Blue Devils may be missing their No. 1 player in the tournament due to a shoulder injury. Senior Daniela Bercek was forced to miss her last three matches against N.C. State (20-7, 8-3) and North Carolina.
"She's taking care of her shoulder as best as possible," Nickitas said. "She's giving it as much rest as possible and doing minimal amounts of hitting. We're going to try to have her play, but you just never know."
Injuries aside, freshman Amanda Granson has high hopes for her team.
"As a team, we feel confident going into ACCs because even though we haven't won all of our matches, we have been competing really well and have had close finishes with three of the top five teams in the nation," Granson said. "It would be great to get a rematch against UNC. We lost to them on Sunday, and we would love another shot at them."
Sophomore Melissa Mang said the Blue Devils will need to keep a solid mental attitude during the matches.
"Every game we play is such high level," Mang said. "We just need to not put pressure on ourselves against teams we know are going to be tough. We need to focus on our attitudes and supporting each other."