The No. 9 Blue Devils left the courts with mixed results this weekend—after showing their determination with a comeback win against Florida State, they fell the next day to No. 10 Miami.
For the second consecutive weekend, the team headed into both its matches at a disadvantage with just five healthy players and was forced to forfeit a singles and doubles match. Despite this, Duke (14-6, 5-3 in the ACC) did not fold under pressure and went into the weekend’s play ready to handle the challenge.
“They’re all good players, and they all believe in themselves and believe in each other,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “We talked a lot about playing with pride and playing with character because at the end of the day tennis is an individual sport, so whether they’re out there with six players or ten players or three players they still have to perform.”
Although they left Tallahassee with a win, Duke got off to a rough start against the Seminoles (12-6, 4-3). After forfeiting the first doubles match, the Blue Devils lost the doubles point after Florida State’s Amy Sargeant and Mia Vriens defeated Duke duo junior Marianne Jodoin and sophomore Annie Mulholland 8-2.
With the exception of senior Nicole Lipp’s 6-0, 6-2 loss, however, the Blue Devil women were able to rally during singles play. Jodoin came back from her doubles loss to take an early lead in her first set and eventually close a 6-2, 6-4 victory while Mary Clayton held off Segarelli on court two for a 7-6 (8-6), 6-1 win.
No. 23 Hanna Mar also staved off a tough opponent in the top singles spot. It came down to Mulholland’s match with Sargeant on court three which had gotten off to a rocky start for the Blue Devil when she secured only a single game in the first set. Despite here initial struggles, Mulholland was able to take the second and third sets 6-4, 6-4, to end the match.
“When it came down to it, I thought that we were better in pressure situations than they were,” Ashworth said. “We lost some first sets and we just kept fighting and kept playing all the way through the end of the matches.”
The Blue Devils were unable to keep up their momentum when they faced off with the Hurricanes (16-4, 7-2), losing 4-0.
“In Miami we got down quickly, very quickly, on all courts,” Mar said. “As a team, they were playing very, very well. Personally, in my match, I was struggling and my opponent was not giving me anything.”
Duke dropped the doubles point again, with Mar and Clayton falling 8-5 to Miami’s Clementina Riohueno and Monique Albuquerque. Mar followed that up with a 6-4, 6-2 loss to No. 79 Stephani Wagner.
In singles the losses continued to roll in as Lipp was unable to secure a win on court five while Clayton lost to Kelsey Laurente in the No. 2 spot. Jodoin was also defeated, breaking her streak of 21 consecutive singles wins with her loss against Riohueno on court three.
Mar mentioned the forfeits as part of the reason the Blue Devils found themselves down early but with injuries incapacitating the rest of the team for the remainder of the season, Ashworth stressed the importance of focusing on the subtleties that win matches, such as a high first-serve percentage.
“It’s something that we’re stressing to them every day, go out and compete and fight and let the results take care of themselves,” Ashworth said. “We’ve lost tough matches, but I think we’ve done those little things that we’ve talked about. Our serving percentage and returns and the first ball in the rally—those are just little things that good teams do well…. It’s something that we’re all going to be working on.”