The NCAA announced its seedings and matchups for the NCAA Team Championships Tuesday evening. Both Blue Devil squads received home court advantage in their draws, something that will go a long way in the first two rounds.
"We've made Duke one of the toughest places in the country for people to come in and play," women's head coach Jamie Ashworth said. "That shows in our results. [The women's team] was fortunate and went undefeated at home this year.... We've gotten really good support throughout the year at home and hopefully that continues to elevate our play and energy level."
Duke's sixth-ranked women's team earned its 25th consecutive bid to the tournament and was able to secure the No. 4 seed. The Blue Devils (24-4) will take on East Tennessee State (14-8) in the first round May 9 at 1 p.m. The match will be the first between the two in program history.
"It's definitely exciting [seeing a new team]," Ashworth said. "Seeing a fresh face our first round of the NCAA is going to be much more exciting than seeing a teammate everyday in a practice match."
Ohio State (19-8) and South Carolina (16-8) will play prior to Duke's match, as the Buckeyes and Gamecocks will start play at 10 a.m. The winners of each contest will match up May 10 at 3 p.m. for second round play.
The Blue Devils will look to improve upon last year's tournament run in which they reached the round of 16 before falling to Florida.
Duke last won the national title in 2009, but spent much of this season perched atop the national polls, giving Ashworth confidence that his team has the potential to reach the final round. But first, the Blue Devils will have to worry about their opening matchup.
"I don't think it really matters who we play," Ashworth said. "We just have to make sure we keep getting better, not to sound cliché. [We have to] get through finals this week and make sure we stay with our conditioning and do some individual work."
Despite losing three matches in the past two weeks, Ashworth felt as though a strong showing in the ACC Championship allowed Duke to regain any lost momentum.
"The ACC tournament was really good for us," Ashworth said. "It would have been obviously great to win it and we had some opportunities to do so, but we beat a good UNC team, we beat Clemson in the quarterfinals 4-0, who we had lost to last week. I told the girls Sunday after we lost to Virginia, 'We got better.'"
The No. 11 men's team will welcome first round opponent Winthrop (16-9) as well as Elon (19-4) and Tennessee (17-10) to Ambler Tennis Stadium for the opening two rounds of play. The Blue Devils picked up the 11th seed and will have to face either the Volunteers or the Phoenix May 11 at 2 p.m. should they defeat Winthrop May 10 at noon. Both Tennessee and Elon defeated Duke early in the season.
The Blue Devil men made it one round farther than their female counterparts last year, falling in the quarterfinals to UCLA.
This year, after opening with a decent 10-5 record, Duke reeled off nine straight victories before falling to then-No. 9 North Carolina in the ACC Championship semifinals. Despite losing their top singles player Michael Redlicki to suspension and temporarily losing Cale Hammond to a severed fingertip, the Blue Devils finished the season stronger than they started and will look to continue that momentum into the postseason.
“We are excited and honored to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Championship,” men's head coach Ramsey Smith said. “Winthrop is playing well, having just won the Big South, and we know how good Tennessee and Elon are. Our team has built up some great momentum over the past six weeks and we are looking forward to the challenge.”