With the first match of the season just around the corner—and a winter vacation trip to Hawaii under their belts—the No. 3 Blue Devils are anxious to host William & Mary Saturday at 6 p.m.
But the Tribe are ready for action too as Duke will host them for its third straight Spring season opener. The Blue Devils won 7-0 in each of the previous two meetings.
Tyler Thomson, the William & Mary’s head coach, attributed his team’s confidence level not to its easy wins against Richmond and UMBC earlier this week, but rather to the girls’ overall tennis acumen.
“We don’t draw our confidence from outside factors,” he said. “We’re waiting to get our confidence from the way we hit the tennis ball.”
Although the Tribe are not ranked, the Blue Devils are not looking past them. Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth recognizes talent when he sees it and expects his girls to utilize their fall training to play good tennis.
“William and Mary has a good team,” he said. “It’s one that has given us a lot of trouble in the past, and we’ve had some tough matches and some tough results against them.”
This match will prove to be an important one for both squads, with the Tribe looking to continue its undefeated record, and the Blue Devils anxious to start the season off strong.
The Tribe’s Maria Belaya and Jeltje Loomans are the third-ranked doubles pair in the nation, and with talented players rounding out the rest of the squad, the Blue Devils agree that taking this team lightly would not fare well for them.
“Just because it’s the first match, doesn’t mean we can just blow it off,” junior Hanna Mar said. “We just have to focus on doing to the big things well.”
Mar is the No. 10 singles player in the nation and along with Beatrice Capra the No. 6 doubles pair.
The Blue Devils’ main concern is their resilience after not having competed since the Hawaii Invitational. The team is looking to push themselves and use this match to gauge their initial standing in the world of college tennis.
For the Tribe, their struggle is internal. With only seven healthy girls on the roster, they are battling what they see a lack of depth on the team.
“It’s very constraining from a coaching standpoint, and my main priority is trying to keep the current line-up staying healthy,” Thomson said.