Duke has not lost to Notre Dame in five years. The Blue Devils were not about to start now.
In its third conference match of the season, No. 1 Duke took down Notre Dame 6-1 Friday in the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. Although No. 25 Notre Dame is more accustomed playing indoors and the Blue Devils started out flat in doubles, Duke used a burst of energy to seize control of the match
“I think it was a good match. I think Notre Dame is a really good indoor team,” junior Annie Mulholland said. “That is where they play a lot of their matches inside, so we knew that they would be dangerous coming out if we didn’t do what we needed to do.”
The Blue Devils (10-1, 2-1 in the ACC) struggled at the beginning with doubles, but quickly found their footing to beat the Fighting Irish (5-5, 0-2) in their first matches. The Blue Devils have a 10-1 record in their doubles points, only losing to UCLA in the National Team Indoors.
“It is just pure emotion. With the eight game pro set we have to get off to better starts, and I just thought we came out flat,” Ashworth said. “We have been playing good doubles for the most part for the entire season, so hopefully this was just a little aberration.”
The freshman-senior duo of Alyssa Smith and Ester Goldfeld beat Notre Dame’s Jennifer Kellner and Katherine White handily 8-4 for Duke’s first win of the match. Smith and Goldfeld extended their winning streak to five matches and have only lost one match this season.
After a loss by Duke's top doubles team, the score was tied 1-1 in doubles, but that did not shake duo of Mulholland and freshman Chalena Scholl. The pair came back from a 3-0 deficit and won the match 8-6 in a close game with a cross-court volley by Scholl.
“It is about focusing about what we need to do as a doubles team and what I need to do when I am out there on a singles court,” Mulholland said. “I’ve come back from being down and I’ve had players come back when I’m up, so I know it is possible.”
Notre Dame was no match for Duke in singles. The Blue Devils breezed through their matches, winning all the first sets except for Goldfeld at the second singles spot.
The first win came from senior Rachel Kahan against Mary Closs 6-3, 6-0. Kahan easily won her match, breaking away in the first set. Goldfeld was next off the court losing 6-0, 6-4 to Quinn Gleason. Smith acquired the third point with an ace against Monica Robinson with a score of 6-2, 6-3. Mar finished seconds after Smith in a 6-3, 6-4 victory against Jennifer Kellner.
“We are better when we are an emotional team and it carries over to the things we do on the court as far as out movement and the shots we hit and the shot selection that we have,” Ashworth said. “If we have energy, we play more aggressive.”
After losing her doubles match, No. 2 Beatrice Capra rebounded by defeating Britney Sanders 6-1, 6-4. That was followed by a close win from Mulholland 6-4, 6-4 against Molly O’Koniewski.
“In singles… we got a lot of first sets fairly easily because we played with more emotion then we kind of hit a lull,” Ashworth said. “We just have to play complete matches a little bit better.”
The Blue Devils got 24 hours off before a matchup with No. 11 North Carolina Sunday at Ambler Tennis Stadium.
“I’m so excited, especially since it is home, and we played them at indoors and had a really good match,” Capra said. “We played really well, so I think everybody is really fired up, so we’ll see how it goes. We just have to fight for every point.“