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Two wins give Blue Devils conference lead

The No. 3 Duke Blue Devils improved to 19-2 on the season in a 4-2 win over ACC rival Florida State at Ambler Tennis Stadium.
The No. 3 Duke Blue Devils improved to 19-2 on the season in a 4-2 win over ACC rival Florida State at Ambler Tennis Stadium.

The Blue Devils took on two visitors from the Sunshine State over the weekend, avenging last year’s loss in the ACC tournament to Florida State, and defeating conference-leading Miami.

Last Friday, No. 3 Duke (19-2, 8-0 ACC) upended the No. 7 Hurricanes (16-3, 7-2) 4-0. Miami—who led the ACC standings—had been unbeaten in the conference before arriving in Durham. The following day, the Blue Devils took on Florida State (11-8, 4-5), winning 4-2 and continuing their eight-match win streak.

“We out-competed them,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “I didn’t think we hit the ball great, but we were really determined and really focused to play good singles.”

Singles have been strong point for Duke this season, which carries a 0.909 winning percentages for singles matches in the ACC. The Blue Devils have struggled in doubles, where they hold a 0.667 winning percentage.

The Hurricanes took a quick 8-4 victory when Liat Zimmerman and Melissa Bolivar overcame junior Mary Clayton and freshman Ester Goldfeld.

Duke was resilient, however, as sophomore Hanna Mar and freshman Annie Mulholland won a tough 8-6 effort, before the 25th ranked duo of freshman Beatrice Capra and sophomore Rachel Kahan clinched the doubles point with a 8-4 decision over Gabriela Majia and Lina Lileikite.

The momentum carried over into singles play, where the Blue Devils refused to allow Miami to gain confidence.

Freshman Monica Turewicz captured a quick 6-2, 6-2 win over Brittany Dubins to put Duke up 2-0. Kahan and Clayton soon followed suit, each finishing in straight sets to clinch the win for the Blue Devils. The match ended a 14-game winning streak for the Hurricanes.

With less than 24 hours of rest, Duke was back on the court to take on the Seminoles.

“[Florida State] always gives us trouble,” Ashworth said. “They are gritty and they make you earn points.”

This proved true in doubles play, where after capturing the first win, the Seminoles staged a comeback against the Blue Devils.

Mar and Mulholland were the first to succumb to Florida State. Despite a good effort, serving errors proved lethal, allowing the Seminoles to take an 8-6 win.

All eyes quickly turned to court two where Capra and Kahan vied for the doubles point against Florida State’s Ruth Seaborne and Leyla Erkan. Despite tying the match up to 7-7, Capra and Kahan were unable to take the lead, losing 9-7.

“I didn’t think we played very good in doubles,” Ashworth said. “We didn’t serve very well today, but after doubles, we talked about how we needed to come out with energy in singles.”

The energy showed immediately, as Clayton earned a 6-1, 6-2 win over Amy Sargeant to tie the match at 1-1.

“Mary doing a good job wining a quick match is something we always look for,” Ashworth said. “It’s always been kind of a mark of our program—lose the doubles point [and] you’ve got to get a quick singles match.”

Kahan then took a dominating 6-4, 6-0 victory and within seconds Capra followed to put the Blue Devils up by two.

Florida State remained unwilling to back down, cutting the lead to 3-2 after Francesca Segarelli outlasted Mar 6-3, 6-3.

The clinching point occurred on court six, where Monica Turewicz defeated Carolina De los Santos 6-4, 6-3 to end the match.

“Once I got up on her, she lost a little bit of confidence so I tried to make sure that I was constantly on her and attacking,” Turewicz said. “I tried really hard to keep my energy up. I win most points when I’m positive and energized.”

With the victory, Duke is now tied for the lead in the conference standings with rival No. 8 North Carolina. The two will face off this Thursday in a battle that will likely decide both the regular season ACC champion as well as the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

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