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Duke women's tennis to begin NCAA tournament on the road against Purdue

Ester Goldfeld and the Blue Devils will travel to Athens, Ga., for the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament.
Ester Goldfeld and the Blue Devils will travel to Athens, Ga., for the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament.

After an up-and-down regular season and early exit from the ACC tournament, Duke will have to go on the road to open up NCAA tournament play.

The Blue Devils' postseason quest will begin in the first round against Purdue May 9 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. A victory against the Boilermakers would then set Duke up with the winner of Charleston Southern and sixth-seeded Georgia—the host of all three first and second round matches.

“It’s a tough matchup and a tough place to play,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “We were down there last year in Athens for the NCAA tournament. It’s a great place to play. But the matches are tough. Purdue is a really good program with good coaching. Purdue isn’t a matchup where we can go in and just turn it on and off. And obviously, if we were to win that, Georgia is always one of the top programs in the country. Nothing is easy for us. We have to be ready to play.”

Senior Ester Goldfeld, freshman Samantha Harris and junior Beatrice Capra—ranked 39th, 83rd and 89th in the country, respectively—will lead the Blue Devils (16-9) into postseason play, joining veterans Rachel Kahan and Annie Mulholland and sophomore Chalena Scholl in the Duke lineup.

The Blue Devils could have been a host for the first and second rounds with a strong performance in the ACC tournament. However, their loss to Georgia Tech in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament relegated them to a first-round match away from home.

Purdue (14-8) has one doubles pair ranked in the top 100 nationally—the No. 68 tandem of Daniela Vidal and Tess Bernard-Feigenbaum—and no ranked singles players.

With two weeks between matches, Ashworth said he wants his players to maintain their edge and remained focused as they finish their final exams.

“First getting through exams is important and then just trying to stay match tough and get our energy and emotion back," Ashworth said. "At this time of year, two weeks is a long time not to play and we’ve been [in] play mode for a little bit. We have to keep our competitive spirit going.”