Retribution was not in the cards for Duke at the ACC championship this weekend.
Despite high hopes, the top-seeded Blue Devils saw their ACC title run come to an end Saturday in the semifinal round against Florida State, 4-3, at the Cary Tennis Park. The defeat came only six days after a loss to the Seminoles at the close of the regular season, which was Duke’s only conference loss of the year.
Now, after two losses in a week, Duke knows it will have to work a bit harder next time to top the Seminoles.
“It doesn’t get personal,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “They have a great group of competitors. FSU doesn’t fear us. We can win some matches because some teams play the name and not the ball. [Florida State] walked on the court and didn’t have fear.”
The Blue Devils fell behind early, losing their first doubles point since taking on Virginia April 3. Ellah Nze and Rachel Kahan defeated Noemie Scharle and Fredrica Suess from the No. 1 spot, but their teammates were unable to defeat their opponents at No. 2 and 3.
It was the second straight day Duke got off to a poor start in doubles. Although the Blue Devils had played well in doubles for the last month, this weekend their doubles play was subpar, according to Ashworth.
Although the fifth-seeded Seminoles started singles play with the lead, Duke was quick to answer back. Sophomore Mary Clayton and freshman Kahan, who was named ACC Freshman of the Year last week, took quick straight-set wins over their opponents Amy Sargeant and Seuss, respectively. Ashworth said that, compared with the previous loss against Florida State, everyone played better in singles.
“[Last week] Nadine [Fahoum] lost in straight sets, but today had match point,” he said. “There were improvements all around, all against the same people as last week. We put ourselves in good position to win.”
Yet, the improvements were not enough to stop the Seminoles. Nze defeated Francesca Segarelli in three sets, but Reka Zsilinszka, Elizabeth Plotkin and Fahoum each fell to their opponent in the third set.
“Having to rely on [winning] four singles matches—it catches up to you,” Ashworth said. “We’re obviously disappointed in the outcome. We even had a match point to win.... We have things to work on. [The team is] more in pain that we lost, but they haven’t lost their confidence.”
The Blue Devils now await their seeding for the NCAA Tournament, which begins May 13.
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