Duke showed no mercy in its mid-week matchup, taking down Northwestern in the teams' annual contest.
The top-ranked Blue Devils extended their winning streak to eight games Wednesday at Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center against the No. 11 Wildcats. Northwestern faced a quick turnaround this week, coming off a tough loss to No. 9 North Carolina Tuesday before matching up with the Blue Devils. Duke—which benefitted from a three-day break from match play—turned up the heat to beat the Wildcats 5-2.
“I was really excited to play this match. Northwestern is a really tough team, and I knew that we would have to come out with a lot of energy and, hopefully, outplay them,” sophomore Beatrice Capra said. “I though that everyone did a good job today competing and taking each match as it was.”
Northwestern (9-5) came out aggressively in doubles, but was no match for the Duke doubles teams. The Blue Devils captured the doubles point for the seventh match in a row, with Duke's top two pairings notching 8-2 triumphs within minutes of each other.
“We did a really good job of coming out with energy with doubles because usually Northwestern has really good doubles," head coach Jamie Ashworth said. "I was concerned all week with making sure that we played crisp doubles and I thought that we did that."
Duke (16-1) carried its momentum from the strong doubles showing into singles, but Northwestern did not give up easily.
“I told them after doubles that we don’t want to give Northwestern any kind of momentum to feed off of because usually they are a high-energy team,” Ashworth said. “It was really important for us to get off to a good start in the games and sets in singles and not let them in the match at all.”
Duke secured the second point with a 6-3, 6-0 victory from senior Marianne Jodoin at sixth singles. That was followed by another Duke win from fifth-ranked Capra, who defeated No. 44 Veronica Corning 6-3, 6-2.
“It is always hard for me to come out with the same focus because we just got done with doubles, so I just had to settle myself with the match and eventually I was able to pull through,” Capra said.
Junior Ester Goldfeld, ranked 24th nationally, tarnished No. 36 Belinda Niu’s perfect record at the second singles spot, defeating her 6-4, 6-3.
Duke struggled to finish off the last three matches. Senior Rachel Kahan won her first set handily, but faltered down the stretch and lost the match in a third-set tiebreaker 6-3, 7-6, 8-10 against Manon Peri. After coming back to win the second set, freshman Alyssa Smith was unable to finish off the match and lost 5-7, 6-3, 10-6 to Lok Sze Leung. Although she lost the first set in a tiebreaker, senior Hanna Mar came out on top, defeating Alicia Barnett 7-6, 6-3, 10-8.
“It is hard mentally when you know your team has already won, but we have to do a good job of finishing," Ashworth said. "Not every match is going to be like this, so you have to learn to close out matches."