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Despite loss to ’Canes, Duke holds onto 4th in ACC

Sophomore Monica Gorny won her matches in singles and doubles Sunday, but it wasn’t enough for Duke to overcome Miami.
Sophomore Monica Gorny won her matches in singles and doubles Sunday, but it wasn’t enough for Duke to overcome Miami.

A weekend that started so brightly for Duke ended on a bitter note Sunday afternoon after the Blue Devils let a victory slip through their fingers against No. 11 Miami.

No. 6 Duke (19-6, 7-4 in the ACC) was forced to play on back-to-back days against two quality opponents in No. 15 Florida State Saturday and the Hurricanes Sunday, but the Blue Devils made quick work of the Seminoles in the first match at Ambler Tennis Stadium.

Sunday, though, Miami (17-4, 10-1) jumped out to an early lead in doubles play, winning matches at Nos. 1 and 2 to earn the point. Once the dual match progressed into singles, it looked like Duke might not have needed the doubles point—sophomore Monica Gorny, playing at No. 6, and senior Amanda Granson, at No. 4, won their matches very quickly to give the Blue Devils a 2-1 advantage.

Duke, however, would get only one more win, a straight-setter on Court 3 from Reka Zsilinszka.

The match came down to Courts 1 and 5, and the Blue Devils needed either Ellah Nze or Mary Clayton—both of whom had won their first sets—to pull out another and give Duke the fourth point it needed for the victory. Instead, Miami fought back in both matches to win, giving the Hurricanes the emotional 4-3 triumph.

“We talk about [when] playing a team like this who is top 10 in the country, we have to be at our best emotionally, physically and mentally, and mentally, we were not,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “We gave away points in doubles, we gave away points in singles—we have to take from this that if we can bring all three of those, then we’ll be fine and we’ll let the results speak for themselves, but we had some lapses there that just cost us.”

On the positive side, Granson’s singles win made her Duke’s all-time winningest player in ACC competition. Ashworth praised the senior’s constant improvement and reliability throughout her four years at Duke, and also praised Granson for her contribution in doubles, where she has played on the top line alongside Nze.

Although the team defeat to Miami is disappointing, the Blue Devils’ seeding for the upcoming ACC tournament in Cary will not change. Duke locked up the fourth seed in this weekend’s tournament with an easy 4-0 win over the Seminoles Saturday.

In doubles play, the third-seeded duo of Zsilinszka and Liz Plotkin cruised to an 8-2 win, and the pair of youngsters Clayton and Gorny pulled out a 9-7 win on Court 2 to give Duke the point.

Singles play progressed even more smoothly—Duke won in straight sets at the bottom three seeds, giving the Blue Devils an insurmountable 4-0 lead.

“I thought it was one of the cleanest matches we played all year,” Ashworth said. “We played good doubles and took advantage of that going into singles. I thought it was one of our cleanest, best efforts all the way through.”

Duke will hit the courts next in the ACC tournament quarterfinals Friday morning. The Blue Devils will face either Florida State, the fifth seed, or winless Maryland, the No. 12 team in the conference.  

Jeff Scholl contributed to this report.

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