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Duke women's tennis dispatches No. 12 Virginia and Notre Dame to stay strong in ACC play

<p>Senior Beatrice Capra battled back to clinch the Duke victory Sunday against Notre Dame.</p>

Senior Beatrice Capra battled back to clinch the Duke victory Sunday against Notre Dame.

Beatrice Capra had her back to the wall Sunday afternoon, trailing 4-2 on court one in the first set of singles action. But the senior fought back and ended up clinching the Blue Devils’ second conference victory of the weekend.

Despite a rocky start on most of the singles courts, No. 10 Duke beat Notre Dame 4-1 Sunday at Ambler Tennis Stadium. The Blue Devils bounced back from a 4-1 home loss against No. 3 North Carolina Tuesday by sweeping No. 12 Virginia 4-0 in Charlottesville, Va., Friday and defeating the Fighting Irish in Durham two days later.

“This is the toughest stretch of our season and [playing] away and home on the same weekend is never an easy thing. It’s basically physically draining,” Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “We definitely could have played better but I was happy with the level that we competed and [how we] found the way back in some matches.”

The Blue Devils (15-3, 8-2 in the ACC) delivered strong performances in doubles action this weekend, posting four hard-fought wins.

Against the Cavaliers (11-8, 5-4), sophomore Samantha Harris and rookie Kaitlyn McCarthy trailed 2-0 early on court two but stormed back and pulled off a 6-3 win against the duo of Cassie Mercer and Tori Olivarez. On court three, juniors Alyssa Smith and Chalena Scholl registered their 12th doubles win of the season by defeating the Virginia tandem of Erica Susi and Taylor Wingo 6-4.

The doubles momentum continued Sunday against the Fighting Irish (10-9, 4-6), when Ashworth’s squad claimed the first point of the match thanks to victories on courts two and three again. The tandem of Harris and McCarthy posted its ninth straight doubles win and blanked Julie Vrabel and Mary Closs 6-0 and Smith and Scholl beat Notre Dame’s pair of Brooke Broda and Allison Miller 6-4.

Duke’s 13th-ranked duo of Capra and Ellyse Hamlin was deadlocked 4-4 with the Fighting Irish before the match was abandoned.

“When you’re tired on the court, especially when we have a long season like this, knowing that if you’re not feeling well but...your teammate is pumped up and emotionally invested in the match, it gets you fired up,” Capra said. “When we are emotionally at our best, we play really well.”

In singles action in Charlottesville, freshman Jessica Ho clinched the Blue Devil victory against Virginia thanks to her 6-2, 6-3 singles effort on court six, following 6-3, 6-1 wins by both No. 92 Scholl and Harris on courts two and four, respectively. 

The Blue Devils were on the wrong side of the scoreboard early in most of the singles matchups Sunday, but after Scholl secured the second Blue Devil point of the game by defeating No. 61 Monica Robinson 6-3, 6-3 on court two, the floodgates opened. No. 35 McCarthy dispatched Miller 6-2, 6-4, posting her third win of the week and giving Duke a 3-0 lead on court three.

Things got interesting on court five as No. 78 Hamlin fell to Borda 2-6, 6-7 (3-7) but No. 28 Capra clinched the Blue Devil victory on court one after registering a nail-biting 7-5, 6-3 victory against No. 45 Quinn Gleason.

“Staying in the match as long as I could [was key],” Capra said. “I told myself, ‘Just work hard and try to make every ball.’ I definitely was not playing my best tennis. My serve was off. I just wanted to stay in the rally as long as I could and then when I saw an opportunity to move forward and close out the point, I just tried my best to do that.”

Duke returns to action Wednesday at 1 p.m. against No. 11 Michigan at Ambler Tennis Stadium. The non-conference matchup against the Wolverines—who are unbeaten in Big Ten action and have taken down four ranked schools, including Miami and North Carolina—is the second contest of the Blue Devils’ four-match, nine-day homestand.


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