Accompanied by Beatrice Capra, the only senior on a squad mostly consisting of underclassmen, three Blue Devil freshmen will have the opportunity to make their first appearance in a Duke uniform outside the state of North Carolina.
Capra and newcomers Ellyse Hamlin, Jessica Ho and Kaitlyn McCarthy will travel to Palisades, Calif., to participate in the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, which run Saturday through Oct. 11. After registering solid performances in the Duke James Bonk Invite in Cary, N.C., 10 days ago, the four Blue Devils will battle opponents from all over the country.
“[The Riviera All-American Tournament] gives us the chance to see where we are at the national level, a sense of where we are at the beginning of the season,” Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “We’ve only had one tournament and obviously it was a much smaller event. We’re excited to play against the best players in the country this weekend and we’re excited to showcase what we’ve been working on in practices.”
Although Capra did not play singles in the James Bonk Invite, she teamed up with Hamlin in doubles, defeating Virginia’s Erica Susi and Victoria Olivarez (8-0), Tar Heels Cassandra Vasquez and Ashley Dai (8-4) and Caroline Wegner and Mia King from TCU (8-5). The Blue Devil duo earned the No. 39 spot in the ITA doubles preseason rankings.
Capra—ranked 71st in the country and only 26 singles wins shy of her 100th career doubles victory—will offer her leadership and experience to her young teammates this season. Ashworth said that the Ellicott City, Md., native has put lots of effort into stepping into her new role.
“[Capra] has been a great leader so far. We asked her, from a leadership standpoint, to get out of her comfort zone and she handled it great,” Ashworth said. “Our whole team is in a [good] place right now with each other because of her leadership.”
Hamlin—ranked No. 6 in the Oracle/ITA Women’s National Newcomer/Freshman rankings—beat Furman’s Katarina Weymouth (6-3, 6-2) in Day One of the James Bonk Invite but lost to North Carolina’s Vasquez the day after. Both McCarthy and Ho were unbeaten in singles action in Cary.
In doubles, McCarthy teamed up with sophomore Samantha Harris. The duo, ranked 42nd in the nation, defeated Florida’s Belinda Woolcock and Kourtney Keegan (8-7) in one of the Doubles Finals of the James Bonk Invite. In the third Doubles Final, Ho and junior Chalena Scholl beat Georgia Tech’s Kendal Woodard and Paige Hourigan by the same score.
The three Blue Devil freshmen will look to have an immediate impact on the court and the trip to California will mark a stiff early-season test for them.
“We have to value every opportunity we get to play,” Ashworth said. “[The freshmen] are going to contribute to our team all year. [This tournament] will give them the opportunity to hopefully establish themselves at the national level. There’s no reason for them to be nervous or anything. It’s just about playing their game and the results will speak by themselves.”