The Blue Devils enjoyed a much-needed two-week break from dual match competition after a grueling three-day stretch at the ITA National Indoor Championships, but will have to climb back into the saddle this weekend with the Longhorns coming to town.
No. 7 Duke takes on Texas at noon Sunday at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center, trying to build off of a strong close to the ITA National Indoor Championships. After falling to No. 1 Vanderbilt 4-0 in the opening round, the Blue Devils rebounded with sweeps of both No. 9 Texas A&M and Fresno State. As a result, Duke rose seven spots in the most recent ITA rankings, climbing from No. 14 up to No. 7.
Duke left Madison with plenty of momentum after its consecutive 4-0 wins, but needed a few days to get back into the flow of things before setting their sights on preparing for Texas.
“[The two-week break] was really good for us, to be honest with you, because national indoors is such an emotional, physical, mental test,” Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “It really benefited us to come back and have a couple of days to regroup.”
Texas (3-2) could pose a threat for Duke (6-1) at the top of the lineup. Senior Breaunna Addison, a two-time All-American and former Big 12 Player of the Year, has started off the season 21-2, including a 5-0 ledger on court one in dual matches. In each of her first three seasons in Austin, Texas, Addison qualified for the singles section of the NCAA tournament and appears headed toward another postseason invite again this year.
Senior Beatrice Capra will likely square off against Addison at the top singles slot, creating a marquee matchup between two all-conference selections. Capra enters the contest 2-1 against ranked opponents.
The problem for Texas has been the rest of the lineup playing behind Addison. Just one other Longhorn—Loen Groenvynck—owns a tournament record better than .500, and doubles teams not featuring Addison are 2-7 on the season in dual play.
On the other side of the net, Ashworth's squad features eight players with winning records, highlighted by its freshman trio. Kaitlyn McCarthy will take the court Saturday with a 19-3 record, Jessica Ho enters 9-5 and Ellyse Hamlin comes in at 7-2. For the most part, the newcomers have established themselves as consistent performers in the Blue Devil lineup, unfazed by the pressures of adjusting to the college game.
But the Blue Devils are not satisfied with their success of late, and will look to use the two-week hiatus as a springboard into the start of ACC play, which begins next week.
“We’re definitely not satisfied with where we are,” Ashworth said. “Its great to see how we’ve improved throughout the first part of the year, but we want to keep working and keep driving and keep building.”
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