The No. 4 Blue Devils knew they would be in for a long match, going up against No. 2 Florida Sunday. In a rematch of last year’s NCAA tournament semifinal, in which the Blue Devils lost 4-3, Duke could hardly have asked for a more satisfying win.
After a heartbreaking loss to North Carolina in the semifinals of the National Team Indoors last week, the women were eager to redeem themselves. The 4-0 win was Duke’s first-ever sweep against the Gators and only its fifth overall win against Florida in program history.
Head coach Jamie Ashworth was extremely proud of the way his team played and believes it says a lot about Duke tennis.
“So many teams play Florida and go out on the court and roll over because it’s Florida,” Ashworth said. “I told them if we go out there and fight and put pressure on them and make them come up with shots, we’d be in a good position because teams don’t do that to them. Other teams play the ‘Florida’ on their jersey rather than the ball.”
On court three, the doubles team of junior Hanna Mar and sophomore Monica Turewicz took care of business quickly against Florida’s Danielle Collins and Olivia Janowicz. After breaking serve to open the set, Mar and Turewicz cruised to an 8-4 victory and put Duke’s first win on the board.
Duke’s No. 1 doubles team of senior captain Mary Clayton and sophomore Ester Goldfeld showed their endurance in a loss to Florida’s Lauren Embree and and Sofie Oyen. After being down 4-1, Clayton and Goldfeld fought their way back 4-5 with aggressive net play and strategic ball placement. But despite their efforts, the duo could not manage to hold off the Gators, losing 8-4.
The doubles point came down to sophomore pair Marianne Jodoin and Annie Mulholland on court two. After being down 6-4, Mulholland recorded a powerful overhead smash down the middle of the court to tie it up at 6-6.
Florida’s Brianna Morgan and Alexandra Cercone showed off potent net play, but Mulholland and Jodoin managed to hang on for a tiebreak at 8-8. After being down a mini-break, a forehand volley from Jodoin put the ball just out of Florida’s reach, clinching an 8-7 victory and the doubles point for the Blue Devils.
“After watching Marianne and Annie compete so well and fight and win their doubles match, it gave us all so much confidence,” Goldfeld said. “I think that definitely carried over into singles and helped all of us.”
No. 45 Goldfeld won her singles match against No. 9 Sofie Oyen in straight sets and Turewicz gave Duke a second singles victory against Collins.
On court six, No. 102 Jodoin dropped the first set to Janowicz 6-1, but managed to fight her way to a 6-4 victory in the second. Going into the third, all Jodoin was thinking about was playing her best to help her team win, and she clinched the fourth match for the Blue Devils with a 6-2 third set victory.
“We played with so much emotion,” Jodoin said. “We gave it everything we had on every single court and the score tells it all.”
Before Jodoin’s victory ended play, No. 64 Clayton had match point on her racket against No. 116 Cercone, to whom she dropped a three-hour marathon match in the NCAA semifinals last year. After dropping the first set 6-4, Clayton broke serve early in the second and went up 2-0, eventually taking the second set 6-1 and leading the third set 5-2.
“She just kept fighting,” Ashworth said. “Never for a second did she shrug her shoulders or put her head down, the same as our entire team.”
Beating the No. 2 team in the country required the all-out effort the Blue Devils put forth on all courts Sunday.
“I was really proud of this team today,” Ashworth said. “We’ve had good results in the past couple years, but today, I was just proud of the way they handled themselves and happy for each one of them.”