With their conference slate quickly coming to a close, the Blue Devils’ lone senior will play in front of a home crowd one last time.
Beatrice Capra will look to lead No. 8 Duke past N.C. State Tuesday at 3 p.m. in her final home match as the Blue Devils aim to secure a top-four seed and a two-day bye in the ACC tournament.The squad’s top singles player only competed in doubles action in Saturday’s 6-1 win against Boston College, watching from the stands as Chalena Scholl took her spot on the top court.
“We want to keep getting better and keep making sure that our emotional level is high,” Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “With three matches in a week and the ACC tournament next week, we’re just trying to get people opportunities to rest. But [Capra] will definitely be out there Senior Day.”
In Wednesday’s contest against 11th-ranked Michigan, No. 25 Capra faced the longest match of the day for the deciding point in the team score. As she and No. 16 Ronit Yurovsky entered the third set and third hour of their match, the rest of the Blue Devil squad stood on the sidelines with their matches finished. The Ellicott City, Md., native claimed the first set but could not hold off Yurovsky for the upset, falling 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.
Duke (16-4, 9-2 in the ACC) will need its star player back in full force after Sunday’s rest in singles Tuesday when she takes on No. 38 Martina Frantova, who holds the top singles spot for the Wolfpack. Frantova has faced a tough stretch of ranked opponents in conference play—including top-ranked Haley Carter of North Carolina and No. 3 Danielle Collins of Virginia—and will look for her first win against a top 25 player this season.
With Capra back on court one, Scholl will likely return to her usual spot on court three, bumping sophomore Samantha Harris to the No. 4 spot, where Harris has been almost perfect for the Blue Devils—except for a loss in straight sets to Courtney Colton in Duke’s 4-0 loss to then-No.1 Vanderbilt in the ITA Indoor National Championships.
Like Capra, freshman Kaitlyn McCarthy was still feeling the effects of the match against the Wolverines in Sunday’s match against the Eagles. But despite lingering pain in her knee, the Cary, N.C., native controlled the points and quickly dispatched Lexi Borr 6-0, 6-2 to lead all players off the court. McCarthy will look for similar results against N.C. State’s Joanna Nalborska on court two.
Led by the No. 19 pair of Capra and freshman Ellyse Hamlin, Duke will try to get off to a strong start by clinching the doubles point for the fifth consecutive match. Ashworth’s squad has claimed the team victory after putting the first point up on the board in all but one contest—Wednesday’s loss to Michigan. The Wolfpack have claimed the doubles point once in their last four matches as their top duo of Frantova and Tayla Stenta have failed to post a winning record in conference play.
N.C. State (12-9, 4-8) has lost three straight conference matches, including a 4-3 upset defeat at home to Florida State. The Wolfpack rebounded from a 5-0 loss to Miami Saturday to defeat Winthrop 6-1 the same day, but will have little opportunity to rest before taking on their in-state opponents. N.C. State has come away with the victory against the Blue Devils only once in the teams’ 56 meetings to date.
The dual with the Wolfpack will mark Duke’s third match in six days, but the Blue Devils will not have much time to catch their breath before hitting the road to take on Georgia Tech Friday and Clemson Sunday.
Duke will also be attempting to overcome fatigue in the final stretch of ACC play. With No. 2 North Carolina all but guaranteed the top seed for the four-day ACC tournament starting April 20, three two-loss squads—Miami, Georgia Tech and the Blue Devils— will aim to clinch the remaining double-bye spots in the bracket this week.
“One of the biggest things for us would be being in the top four and not having to play four straight days in the conference tournament,” Ashworth said. “That’s something that’s within our control and we have to do that this week. Tuesday, Friday and Sunday are all big in that regard for us.”
Brian Pollack contributed reporting.