Wednesday, the Blue Devils jumped out to a 3-0 lead and looked poised for an easy victory, only to see the match slip away from them.
Saturday, Duke found itself in the same position—but this time, it closed out the victory.
The No. 8 Blue Devils got back on track in conference play, cruising past a short-handed Boston College squad 6-1 at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. The match was moved indoors due to windy conditions outside, and Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth chose to rest Beatrice Capra, his top singles player, after she endured a draining three-set loss against Michigan.
Without No. 19 Capra to lead the way in singles play, Duke showcased the depth of its roster and pulled out a big win with the ACC tournament just two weeks away.
“That’s what we talked about—we had to be more of a team in the true sense of the word. Tennis is an individual sport, but we couldn’t just go out there and play as individuals today,” Ashworth said. “We had to put [Wednesday] behind us, learn from it, but be a true team when we walked on the court today, and I thought we did a good job of that. I thought you could hear people supporting each other and cheering each other.”
The Blue Devils (16-4, 9-2 in the ACC) claimed the doubles point for the fourth consecutive match, sparked by winning the first 10 games across the three courts. Chalena Scholl and Alyssa Smith were the first duo to wrap up a match, defeating Boston College’s Heini Salonen and Asiya Dair 6-2 on court three. Then Duke’s top doubles team—the No. 19 pair of Capra and Ellyse Hamlin—sealed the doubles point by winning four games on the deuce point in a 6-2 victory against the No. 88 duo of Lexi Borr and Jackie Urbanati.
Playing in the third match on court two, Samantha Harris and Kaitlyn McCarthy were aiming for their 10th straight doubles victory against Katya Vasilyev and Emily Safron. They won the first three games but dropped the next three and found themselves in a tight battle at four apiece when Capra and Hamlin completed their match.
“We got off to a really good start, we were up 3-0, 3-0, 4-0, something like that,” Ashworth said. “I was really happy with the start of that because that kind of dictated the rest of the match. We could have been flat after that Michigan loss, but I thought the start gave us a little bit of confidence and kind of let us just go out and play, and play free.”
No. 43 McCarthy had no issues closing out her singles match and promptly took the first set against Borr—ranked No. 89 in singles play—at love. The freshman carried her momentum through to the second set, winning the first five games en route to a 6-0, 6-2 victory on court two—her team-leading 24th win of the season.
“Honestly, a lot of things were working well for me today. I played really well, which was awesome,” McCarthy said. “That’s the best I’ve played in a while, so that was really exciting since we’re getting to the end of the year and now we’re starting to get in ACCs. So that’s a good confidence boost. I feel like I was really able to take advantage of first opportunities, and that really helped me execute points quicker and just be efficient.”
Just moments later, Duke increased its lead to 3-0 thanks to Harris’ efforts on court three. The Melbourne, Australia, native extended her singles winning streak to seven with a comfortable 6-1, 6-2 victory against Vasilyev.
Hamlin clinched the match for the Blue Devils with a straight-set victory on court four against Safron. The freshman claimed both sets by identical 6-3 margins, breaking a three-match losing streak as she earned Duke’s fourth point of the afternoon.
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Although the Eagles (8-11, 3-9) traveled with only six players and are scheduled to play No. 2 North Carolina Sunday, they chose to play out the remaining singles contests after the outcome of the match had been decided. Christina Makarova—who entered into the singles lineup in Capra’s absence—made it four consecutive singles victories for the Blue Devils with her 6-1, 6-4 win against Salonen.
“Christina honestly plays the same every match. If people are willing to sit out there [they will] pay the price to beat Christina, because she’s not going to give away a lot of free points,” Ashworth said. “She’s going to run down a lot of balls, she’s going to play a lot of long points. You pretty much know what you’re going to get with Christina every time she walks onto the court. She did a good job of playing her game today.”
Freshman Jessica Ho continued the dominant afternoon for Duke on court five with a 6-4, 6-2 win against Jackie Urbinati. That left No. 67 Scholl—who slid onto court one with Capra resting and had won all four of her matches this season on the top court—as the lone Blue Devil left competing.
But the junior had her hands full with No. 80 Dair, dropping the first set 2-6. Scholl gave Dair all she could handle in the second set, but ultimately fell 2-6, 5-7 as Boston College secured its first and only point of the day.
The Blue Devils return to the court Tuesday for a midweek ACC matchup at home against N.C. State.