With a 9 a.m. first serve in their NCAA tournament opener, it took the Blue Devils a little while to wake up.
But once they did, they had no trouble cruising into the second round.
No. 20 Duke recovered after dropping the doubles point with four consecutive singles victories to take down Purdue 4-1 in the first round of postseason at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. With the win, the Blue Devils advanced to Sunday's second round, where they will have to go through No. 7 Georgia on its home court for a berth in the Round of 16.
Duke (17-9) looked poised to capture the doubles point after senior Ester Goldfeld and sophomore Alyssa Smith routed their counterparts 8-0 on court two. But the Boilermakers responded, as Natalia Davila and Lynda Xepoleas evened things up by defeating senior Annie Mulholland and sophomore Chalena Scholl 8-3, burying the Blue Devil duo by claiming the first five games.
The doubles point came down a battle of ranked pairs on court one. Like Mulholland and Scholl, junior Beatrice Capra and freshman Samantha Harris—the No. 36 tandem in the country—fell into a 5-1 hole early against Purdue's No. 59 duo of Daniela Vidal and Tess Bernard-Feigenbaum. Capra and Harris fought back to within 6-7, but the Boilermakers finished off the match with a break to put Purdue (14-9) ahead 1-0 heading into singles play.
The doubles loss was the second consecutive setback for Duke. But unlike in the ACC tournament quarterfinals against Georgia Tech in April, dropping the doubles point did not carry over into singles.
“We were disappointed in our doubles play and the energy we had in doubles,” head coach Jamie Ashworth told GoDuke.com. “The biggest thing we talked about after doubles is that we had to play with energy, determination and support [in singles]. We did a good job of recovering from that and not letting Purdue feed off of the doubles point.”
Scholl made sure there would be no carryover effect from doubles, earning a 6-1, 6-2 victory against Nicole Robinson at fifth singles. The Pompano Beach, Fla., native reeled off six consecutive games to claim the first set and did not slow down in the second, evening the match at 1-1 to neutralize any momentum for the Boilermakers.
The sophomore's teammates followed suit, as three more straight-set victories quickly got Duke off the court. No. 86 Harris dispatched Xepoleas 6-1, 6-4 at the third singles position and redshirt senior Rachel Kahan never trailed in her 6-3, 6-3 victory against Krisztina Kapitany. Capra closed out the match for the Blue Devils, cruising to a 6-2, 6-1 win against Vidal.
With the contest decided, Goldfeld and Mulholland abandoned their singles matches. No. 39 Goldfeld was one game away from knocking off Bernard-Feigenbaum on court two, and Mulholland sat on the verge of forcing a third set after dropping the first set 1-6 to Purdue's Deborah Suarez.
The four straight-set wins in singles afforded Duke some extra rest as it gets set to face Georgia Sunday at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs (21-6) routed Charleston Southern 4-0 following the Blue Devils' victory.tomorrow
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