With a weekend sweep under their belts to cap a three-match, five-day stretch, the Blue Devils earned the right to rest a few extra days as they gear up for this week’s ACC tournament.
After a 4-1 defeat at the hands of top-ranked North Carolina Wednesday, No. 23 Duke got back on track this weekend in its final two matches of the regular season, defeating Wake Forest 5-2 Friday at Ambler Tennis Stadium before taking down Notre Dame 4-1 on the road Sunday in South Bend, Ind. The Blue Devils will be the third seed in the conference tournament, a position that provides the luxury of a double-bye into Friday’s quarterfinals.
Duke was able to bounce back from its loss to the Tar Heels with a decisive victory against the Demon Deacons (15-8, 10-4 in the ACC) on Senior Day. Departing seniors Ester Goldfeld, Annie Mulholland and Rachel Kahan were honored for their four years in Durham and the Blue Devils made sure to send them out in style.
Duke cruised to victory in the doubles point, headlined with an 8-2 victory by the 51st-ranked tandem of junior Beatrice Capra and freshman Samantha Harris against Wake Forest’s Samantha Asch and Andrea Retolaza. Mulholland and partner Chalena Scholl followed their teammates off the court with a victory by the same score to secure the doubles point.
The Blue Devils (16-8, 11-3) continued to bring intensity on the singles courts, jumping out to early leads on five out of six courts after the first set. No. 37 Goldfeld was first to finish at the No. 1 slot, giving the Blue Devils a 2-0 advantage after conquering Asch 6-2, 6-2. Harris and Capra followed suit, sealing the deal for the Blue Devils with 6-0, 6-4 and 6-4, 6-4 victories, respectively.
Duke brought the same competitive spirit and drive to South Bend Sunday, where they overpowered the Fighting Irish (14-9, 8-6).
Mullholland and Scholl were first off the court Sunday, cruising to an 8-2 win against Notre Dame’s Mary Closs and Jane Fennelly and concluding an undefeated regular season. At the second doubles position, Capra and Harris claimed their second victory of their weekend—an 8-4 triumph against Allison Miller and Julie Vrabel—to give Duke the doubles point and a 1-0 advantage heading into singles play.
Sophomore Alyssa Smith raced out to a commanding 3-0 lead against Fennelly at the sixth singles position and did not relent, capturing a 6-1, 6-2 win.
With a 2-0 advantage, a rain delay brought the action indoors. Capra was next off the courts, dispatching Quinn Gleason in straight set, 6-2, 6-4.
On courts two and four, Goldfeld and Kahan got off to rough starts, each dropping the first set. But the two fought back hard to tie their matches with second-set victories to force decisive third sets. At the fifth singles position, Miller handed the Blue Devils their first and only loss of the day, defeating Scholl in three sets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
After No. 84 Harris decisively captured the first set 6-2, Vrabel competed hard in the second set on court three. The two remained neck and neck, until Harris overpowered Vrabel in the tie-breaker to seize the needed win to give the Blue Devils their 11th ACC victory, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3). Harris is the sixth freshman in Duke history to record double-digit wins against conference opponents.
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With the match determined, Kahan and Goldfeld abandoned their matches, which were deadlocked at a set apiece.
With a weekend sweep, the Blue Devils secured a third seed and a first-round bye heading into the ACC tournament, which begins Wednesday in Cary, N.C. Duke will play Friday at 3 p.m. against either sixth-seeded Georgia Tech, 11th-seeded Wake Forest or 14th-seeded N.C. State. The Demon Deacons and Wolfpack will meet Wednesday for the right to meet the Yellow Jackets Thursday afternoon.