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Rematch with ’Noles no gimme for No. 4 Blue Devils

Duke will play at the early time of 9 a.m. Friday­, when it faces Florida State in Cary.
Duke will play at the early time of 9 a.m. Friday­, when it faces Florida State in Cary.

Just a week after taking down then-No. 15 Florida State at home, Duke is matched up with the Seminoles once again. Only this time, the stakes are a little bit higher. 

When the Blue Devils (19-6), the fourth seed in this weekend’s ACC tournament in Cary, N.C., meet fifth-seeded Florida State (12-9) once again, a spot in the tournament semifinals will be on the line. And perhaps more importantly, the chance to host an NCAA tournament regional—meaning that the team would get to play the first and second rounds of the knockout tournament at home—could be up for grabs, as well.

Duke barely hung on to its position among the top four seeds in the ACC tournament, but having done so could have important repercussions this weekend. The top four teams in the conference—North Carolina, Miami, Clemson and the Blue Devils—all received byes through the first round.

The Seminoles, meanwhile, had to take the courts Thursday. They had no trouble with Maryland, the ACC’s worst team, but fatigue could become an issue for them against a fresher Duke side. 

In the teams’ most recent meeting, at Ambler Tennis Stadium April 17, the Blue Devils were able to rely on the bottom half of their order to get the 4-0 win. After winning the doubles point with victories at Nos. 2 and 3, singles played out in much the same way—fourth seed Amanda Granson, fifth seed Monica Gonry and No. 6 Mary Clayton only lost 13 games combined in three straight-setters.

The top of the order was more of a fight, but that might not matter for Duke if it can get similar production from its lower-ranked players.

If they struggle, though, Duke could, too. Top seed Ellah Nze was up a set but down a break when the match against the Seminoles was called, and No. 2 Elizabeth Plotkin was down a set at the time.

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