The Blue Devils looked poised for the win with a 3-0 lead and one-set advantage on three singles courts, but the Wolverines reeled off two comeback wins to help tie the score—forcing all eyes to court one for the deciding match.
With the team scored knotted at three apiece, No. 25 Beatrice Capra and No. 16 Ronit Yurovsky had just started their third set after splitting the first two 4-6, 7-6.
Yurovsky eventually pulled through and clinched the three-hour match on court one, leading No. 11 Michigan to a 4-3 win against No. 8 Duke 6-3 by outlasting Capra in the final frame Wednesday at Ambler Tennis Stadium.
“The match came down to two really good players left on the court,” Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “[Capra] played better than she did in the win against Notre Dame, and she didn’t give [Yurovsky] any free points. Every point she won, she really had to earn.”
Capra was off to a strong start in the first set after breaking Yurovsky’s serve to claim her first lead of the match 3-2 and took the first frame 6-4. The Blue Devils’ top singles player nearly clinched the match for the home squad after earning a 5-3 advantage in the second set, but could not hold on.
Yurovsky fought back to win the next three games and force a tiebreaker, which she rolled through 7-4 to stay in the match.
Capra’s frustration and fatigue were evident as the third set began. The Ellicott City, Md., native was charged with a time violation because she was not back on the court after the break, forcing her to forfeit the first point of the game. Both Capra and Yurovsky kept play at the baseline for the next hour, unable to muster the energy to make a move to the net through the next nine games.
“That was a really physical match for Beatrice,” Ashworth said. “A lot of points were really long, and she had to move a lot. She definitely still gave herself opportunities, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Two hours earlier, the Blue Devils (15-4, 8-2 in the ACC) were off to a quick start through doubles play and the first two singles matches.
Duke grabbed the early lead on court two with freshman Kaitlyn McCarthy and sophomore Samantha Harris dispatching Mira Ruder-Hook and Alex Najarian 6-3 to open doubles play. Alyssa Smith and Chalena Scholl dropped their match on court three 4-6 to Yurovsky and Sara Remynse, but Duke’s top duo of No. 19 Capra and Ellyse Hamlin battled through an even match with Kate Fahey and Brienne Minor.
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Capra and Hamlin forced a tiebreaker, then Capra drove a forehand between Fahey and Minor to clinch the match 7-6 (7-5), and the doubles point.
Harris sped through her singles match on court four against Rudor-Hook with little difficulty, giving her only one game in the 6-0, 6-1 victory. Freshman Jessica Ho was not far behind on court six, picking up a 6-2, 6-1 victory thanks to decisive play in the second stanza.
Duke was also up by a set on courts one, three and five, but Scholl and Makarova began to struggle after a win on court two gave Michigan (13-4) the spark it needed.
Minor fought back from a 3-0 deficit against McCarthy on court two to claim the first frame 7-5. McCarthy could not recover as Minor found her momentum, and the Wolverine put her team on the board with a quick 6-2 victory in the second stanza.
As McCarthy and Minor shook hands, Scholl and Makarova found themselves headed for third sets. Scholl had dropped the second frame 0-6 and Makarova fell 1-6.
Scholl battled back to try to stave off the Michigan comeback, overcoming a two-game deficit to tie the third set 4-4. But she could not get the upper hand and lost the set 5-7. Makarova’s 2-6 loss in the third set tied the team score.
“We let off the gas and relaxed a little. Some people thought that other people were going to take care of it and that they didn’t have to, and we can’t afford to do that,” Ashworth said. “Michigan fought back and competed really well. Michigan is a really good team—they won our conference basically since they beat us, [North Carolina] and Virginia.”
The Blue Devils will have a few days to regroup before resuming conference play against Boston College (8-10, 3-8 in the ACC) Saturday at noon.
Two Eagles’ players rank in the ITA top 100—No. 80 Asiya Dair and No. 89 Lexi Borr. Boston College has surprised some ranked squads, including an upset of then-No. 19 Clemson 5-2 March 4. But the Blue Devils could be their own worst enemies Saturday if they do not maintain their focus throughout the entire match.
“[We have to focus on] playing with blinders on and understanding that the best thing you can do for your team is taking care of business on your court and not worrying about what someone else is doing four courts down,” Ashworth said.