For the Blue Devils, confidence will be crucial in their final stretch of ACC competition.
No. 22 Duke confronts No. 20 Clemson Friday at 3 p.m. at Ambler Tennis Stadium. Following a commanding 4-0 win against Florida State, the Blue Devils will look to sustain their strong doubles play and tenacity as they face the Tigers.
“It was the most fire and competitive spirit that we’d had in a little bit, and I definitely hope that carries over,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “Historically, Clemson has really good doubles, so we’ve been trying to build on the energy that we had in doubles from the Florida State match.”
In the victory, doubles pairs Samantha Harris and Annie Mulholland along with Beatrice Capra and Rachel Kahan exhibited determination and grit as both duos battled to secure 8-6 wins and give Duke (13-7, 8-2 in the ACC) the early advantage. The Tigers (13-7, 8-3) feature a solid doubles lineup of their own with the third-ranked pair of Beatrice Gumulya and Jessy Rompies boasting a 13-3 record in dual competition.
The doubles point will likely be crucial in generating momentum heading into singles play. For the Blue Devils, No. 41 Ester Goldfeld and No. 103 Capra will lead the team in singles on the top two courts, each executing decisive victories in the Florida State match.
“The other thing [we got] out of that Florida State match was confidence,” Ashworth said. “We went in there—and that’s a tough place to play—had a little bit of adversity with some things, and I thought we competed well and definitely gained some confidence and belief in ourselves.”
Duke will need a significant amount of confidence to take on the Tigers’ hard-hitting lineup. Seeking her ninth consecutive win, No. 15 Joana Eidukonyte presents a 10-1 record in conference play and has just two losses in dual competition. No. 33 Romy Koelzer also poses as threat, posting a 7-3 ACC record and winning eight of her last 10 matches.
The Tigers look to continue their strong momentum, coming off a three-match winning streak made up of a tight 4-3 victory against Georgia Tech and 7-0 victories against N.C. State and Pittsburgh.
“They don’t come into our place with any kind of fear—they’ve been in big matches, and they’ll play like they’ve been in big matches,” Ashworth said. “We have to compete.”
Clemson will be an important battle for the Blue Devils as they head into the final stretch of regular season play. After the Tigers topped Duke 4-3 in their last encounter in April 2014, Duke looks to redeem itself and notch its ninth ACC victory. With the conference tournament on the horizon, every win matters for the Blue Devils as they set their sights on the postseason.
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