As the classic Meat Loaf song goes, “Two outta three ain’t bad.” Especially when it comes to the NCAA Championships.
Ester Goldfeld and Beatrice Capra extended their seasons Wednesday as both picked up victories in the first round of the NCAA Singles Championship at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., while senior Hanna Mar fell to her opening round opponent after two hard-fought sets. The tournament comes on the heels of the NCAA Team Championships, in which Duke lost in the quarterfinals to the eventual champion UCLA.
Both victorious Blue Devils won in straight sets, as No. 27 Goldfeld stormed to a commanding 6-3, 6-1 victory against No. 30 Denise Star of California.
Goldfeld (33-9) and Star were locked in battle, tied at two apiece, when she rattled off four straight games to take the set. Goldfeld repeated the feat when, leading 2-1, she finished Star off by taking four games in a row once more to clinch the match. The victory was the 33rd of her season, making her the first player in the program since 2009 to accrue as many wins in a single season.
Duke’s second win of the tournament came from Capra (28-9). The sophomore—ranked seventh in the nation—has been lights out for the Blue Devils all season and nothing changed Wednesday.
The Ellicot City, Md. native strolled to a 6-2, 6-0 victory against Pepperdine’s No. 26 Lorraine Guillermo. Capra did not yield the lead throughout the match, scoring seven unanswered points to claim victory and advance to the second round. The win was a bounceback victory for Capra, who lost her last matchup against the Bruins in straight sets to No. 2 Robin Anderson,
Unfortunately for Duke, not all Blue Devils in competition were able to fare as well and conclude their day victorious.
No. 36 Mar was forced to face No. 19 Zoë Scandalis of Southern California in her opening round matchup and fell 4-6, 2-6 to bring her singles career at Duke to an end. Although the score may not directly indicate it, Mar had Scandalis on the ropes several times, putting the San Diego native in a 3-1 hole to begin the first set. But Scandalis answered with three consecutive game wins to capture a lead she would not surrender for the remainder of the match.
Mar started the second set strong, locking with the Trojan sophomore in a 1-1 tie before falling behind 1-3. The closest she could close the gap to was 2-3 before she eventually succumbed to defeat, as Sandalis went on another three-game win streak to close the set and the match at 2-6.
Mar concludes her singles career as a Blue Devil with 100 total victories, becoming just the 23rd Duke player in program history to hit triple digits in the win column. The success she would eventually have was foreshadowed in the numbers she began her career with in 2010-2011.
As a freshman she posted a 15-9 singles record but saw more time in doubles competition, finishing the year with a 26-13 clip. Mar went on to compile 54 more singles victories in her sophomore and junior seasons combined. But the Burr Ridge, Ill. native exploded in her senior campaign, winning 31 total single matches to trail only Goldfeld—33 and counting—in overall wins.
Mar’s singles career may be over, but her career as a Blue Devil is not, as she is still set to compete with Capra Thursday in the NCAA Doubles Championship. The duo has compiled an impressive 20-6 clip this season and will look to add to that total against Dominika Kanakova and Elixane Lechemia of South Carolina. Duke’s duo is seeded fifth and will face the winner of the seven-eight seed matchup Friday between duos from Pepperdine and Florida State, should they secure a win Thursday.
Goldfeld—in addition to Capra—will be competing in both doubles and singles play Thursday, as she teams up with freshman Alyssa Smith to take on the No. 2 pair of Lauren Herring and Maho Kowase of Georgia. The tandem of Smith and Goldfeld amassed an 11-6 record, including a 2-2 clip against nationally ranked opponents. If the duo wants to push that record to 3-2, they will have to upset a Bulldog pair that has racked up a 32-6 record thus far and compiled a 12-4 record against nationally ranked opponents.
The NCAA Singles and Doubles Championship will conclude Sunday with both tournament finals taking place that day.