A 10-day stint on the West Coast gave Duke a taste of top-tier competition.
After playing in the San Diego State Fall Classic last weekend, the Blue Devils headed north to Pacific Palisades, Calif., as four players competted in the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships.
Sophomore Beatrice Capra qualified for the main singles draw and made it to the final eight. In doubles, Ester Goldfeld and Annie Mulholland reached the second round. Senior Hanna Mar fell in the singles draw before advancing to the final eight in the consolation bracket.
Winning five straight matches in the main singles draw of the tournament, Capra showed she was ready to compete again after a suspension last spring. Advancing to the quarterfinals by defeating 12th-ranked Petra Niedermayerova of Kansas State 6-1, 6-0, Capra fell against top seed Robin Anderson of UCLA in three sets, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1. All three of Capra's previous matches with Anderson went three sets.
“We have always had battles. We were both the number one and number two recruits coming in for our year and I knew it was going to be a really tough match going forward,” Capra said. “I was really happy with the way I played. [It] gave me confidence in going forward that she was the number one player in the nation, and I was right there with her.”
Mar was defeated by ninth-ranked Julia Elbaba of Virginia in the quarterfinal of the consolation draw, 6-3, 7-6. She lost her Round of 32 match in the tournament's main draw to Baylor’s Emma Burgic in three sets, but won the next contest in the consolation bracket against Lorraine Guillermo of Pepperdine.
“It was a difficult tournament. I went out there expecting I was going to be playing some really tough opponents which I was, as it is the nature of the tournament,” Mar said. “I was happy with how I played. Even though I lost [the first match] I felt pretty positive about it because I felt like I was doing things well, and I can say that I lost that match because she beat me.”
Goldfeld and Mulholland won their first-round match 8-7, winning 8-6 in a tiebreaker. They dropped their second match to Texas Tech’s Kenna Kilgo and Samantha Adams 8-6.
Despite playing just eight matches as a doubles pairing last season, Goldfeld and Mulholland's play continues to impress head coach Jamie Ashworth.
“They compliment each other really well. Ester returns really well, and Annie can finish at net,” Ashworth said. “They did get a little bit nervous because they were out of their comfort zone a little bit, as far as in getting to the quarterfinals and the semis or even further. That’s something that they just have to learn from and get better from if they stay together.”
After back-to-back tournaments in California, the Blue Devils hope to learn from their successes and shortcomings as the team prepares for ITA Regionals Oct. 17 in Chapel Hill.
“I thought it was a really good tournament," Capra said. "This was our first big tournament of the season. It is considered one of the greatest ones in college tennis. So I thought the whole team did a really good job of competing in all their matches."