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Women's tennis pummels Princeton, improves to 7-1

It was no surprise that fourth-ranked Duke (7-1) steamrolled No. 66 Princeton (1-2), 7-0, Saturday at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.

What was surprising was how much freshman Kelly McCain struggled to win her point against the Tigers' Kavitha Krishnamurthy, who is ranked No. 51 nationally.

McCain, ranked No. 3 in the country, took on Krishnamurthy in No. 1 singles in the longest match of the afternoon. While junior Katie Granson cruised through her No. 4 matchup with Princeton's Jackie Arcario without dropping a game, McCain looked tight early and kept to the baseline, trading groundstrokes with Krishnamurthy and shying away from the net.

"[Krishnamurthy] was better than I think Kelly thought she was going to be," coach Jamie Ashworth said of the former top-20 contender. "She's had some injuries, so I think Kelly wasn't expecting her to be as good as she was. That's something we need to do a better job of, so that no matter who we play, we have to expect people to bring their best every time."

After Krishnamurthy pushed her advantage to force a first-set tiebreak, McCain came to life. The Wesley Chapel, Fla., native won the tiebreak, dropped the first game of the second set and then took the next six games to win the match. With the victory, McCain improved to 7-1 on the season.

"After the first set there was a momentum change," McCain said. "It was a tough first set and afterward I thought that I could take over the match. Then I got a little more confident."

Earlier in the day, Duke swept the doubles matchups, dropping only five total games against Princeton. McCain and her new doubles partner, Amanda Johnson, led the way with a victory over Krishnamurthy and Kristi Watson. McCain and Johnson showed little trouble adjusting to their new pairing, allowing the Tigers only one game.

McCain's normal doubles partner, 14th-ranked Julie DeRoo, did not compete due to a back injury that forced her to miss action against No. 12 Northwestern Feb. 23.

"[DeRoo's injury] is not really hurting our singles at all," Ashworth said. "In doubles it's more a matter of people getting used to the system we're trying to play."

While McCain battled with Krishnamurthy, the victory honors went to freshman Saras Arasu, whose No. 6 singles triumph clinched the Duke win. Arasu, Granson and senior Ioana Plesu dominated their opponents and dispatched them quickly.

Plesu, who is ranked for the first time in her college career at No. 81, ran Princeton's Stephanie Berg around the court and dictated the No. 3 match, 6-1, 6-2. With such quick play by Plesu, Granson and Arasu, the higher-ranked players did not need to come through for the Blue Devils Saturday. Duke looks forward to another home match against Illinois to exhibit its dominance.

McCain, however, anticipates the matchup for a more personal reason.

"Illinois is my home state, and I'm looking forward to proving that Duke is better," she said.

The Blue Devils will meet the Illini in the inaugural match at Duke's new Ambler Tennis Stadium Saturday, March 3 at 10 a.m.

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