The Blue Devils captured a perfect 6-0 conference road record this weekend, with two wins against top 25 opponents.
On Friday, No. 3 Duke (17-2, 6-0 ACC) travelled to Clemson, defeating the No. 23 Tigers (11-8, 4-3 ACC) 6-1. The Blue Devils then continued south to Atlanta where they overwhelmed No. 24 Georgia Tech (9-9, 3-4 ACC) in a 7-0 blowout Sunday.
“We have to be proud of how we performed on the road,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “In my 16 years, I don’t think we have every come down and beat Georgia Tech 7-0 and Clemson 6-1 in one weekend. [The team] needs to be proud of that and not be satisfied, but be proud of what they have accomplished.”
The opening match of the weekend began on uneasy grounds, as rain moved the play to the indoor stadium. The atmosphere quickly intensified in doubles play, where the No. 17 tandem of Josipa Bek and Keri Wong beat freshman Ester Goldfeld and junior Mary Clayton 8-4. No. 2 Capra and sophomore Rachel Kahan then overtook Beatrice Gumulya and Romy Koelzer to tie up the contest for the doubles point.
Sophomore Hanna Mar and freshman Annie Mulholland found themselves in a 6-6 standoff against Klara Vyskocilova and Monica Kochanova. After pushing the game into a tiebreaker, Kochanova’s double-fault gave Duke its toughly contested 1-0 lead.
Clemson proved unwilling to back down as Gumulaya handed Kahan her first loss of the season to tie the match at one-all.
The Blue Devils responded, though, as Mar broke Vyskocilova’s six-match win streak in singles with a 6-4, 6-2 victory. Capra quickly followed suit, winning her match at the No. 1 spot and Goldfeld clinched the victory with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 win over Bek.
Clayton and freshman Monica Turewicz finished strong for Duke, ending the match 6-1.
“[Clemson] was a much more emotional match,” Ashworth said. “We talked before the match that our goal is to be the best team physically, mentally and emotionally and I felt that we were able to do that.”
In their final of six straight ACC road matches, the Blue Devils showed little sign of fatigue against the historically tough Yellow Jackets.
In doubles play, Goldfeld and Clayton upset the No. 10 duo of Jillian O’Neill and Alex Anghelescu 8-4. Mar and Mulholland matched their teammates with another 8-4 win to give Duke a 1-0 lead.
Capra and Kahan were unable to capture the sweep, losing 9-7 to Lynn Blau and Elizabeth Kilborn.
Having recently made adjustments with all three tandems, Ashworth noted that the two losses demonstrated that the team has not quite found its perfect lineup.
“We are still looking for the best for the team,” Ashworth said. “We don’t want to be complacent with winning four doubles matches this weekend. We want to be able to win all of them.”
Nonetheless, Duke’s strength and depth persevered, as the team went on to win all six singles matches, ending the match 7-0.
Complementing the team’s accomplishments over the weekend, Capra earned her third ACC player of the week honor. While this can be viewed as a personal achievement, Ashworth stressed that it was also a team success.
“It’s a tribute to her, but her teammates too because they are the ones that push her everyday in practice,” Ashworth said. “Anytime someone on the team can win that I think it is a tribute to the entire team.”
Such combined efforts by every player on the court have proved powerful for Duke, which has proved itself to be a top contender both at the conference and at the national level.
Remaining proud, but not overconfident and complacent is something that Ashworth said he continues to preach to his team as they now enter a string of five home ACC matches.
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