A day after surviving three tiebreaks and three match points by winning crucial rallies, freshman Kaitlyn McCarthy was unable to find the same magic in the Round of 32.
McCarthy, the No. 55 singles player in the country, saw her season come to an end in the second round of the NCAA singles championship with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 loss to No. 13 Jasmine Lee of Mississippi State Thursday afternoon at the Michael Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla. McCarthy lost the first five games of the match before battling back to force a tiebreak in the first set, but the Cary, N.C., native fell behind and was unable to salvage the victory.
"I feel like I got away from the aggressive mindset a little bit towards the end of the tiebreak," McCarthy told GoDuke.com. "You have to be really conscious once you get it back to even from a big deficit that you don’t let up on the gas once you get it back to even, because it’s not over."
In the second set, McCarthy and Lee exchanged breaks of serve in the first four games, but Lee found a rhythm on her serve that allowed her to win four of the next five to seal the win.
A second-team All-ACC performer, McCarthy opened the tournament Wednesday with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (9-7) win against No. 64 Kimmy Guerin of Wake Forest. The victory ended a five-match losing streak for McCarthy in matches that went to completion.
Although she fell Thursday, McCarthy showed she could sustain strong play against a top-15 opponent by winning five straight games in the first set and will now look for more consistency with her serve and groundstrokes during her sophomore campaign.
"It was a really good experience to get out there as a freshman and see the competition," McCarthy said. "It was particularly exciting because I feel like I fit in with the competition there. That’s a huge confidence boost for me. I need to keep playing matches and gain that confidence, that way, I can keep going for it in the big moments and execute in those moments."
McCarthy finished the year with a 25-13 singles record and reached as high as No. 21 in the rankings.
"Hopefully [Kaitlyn] can learn a lot [from playing in the NCAA singles championship]," Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth told GoDuke.com. "You have to understand that it’s a year-long process that’s not the three weeks before the tournament. You work all year. It starts with the first match in September through the last match you play in May."
Get Overtime, all Duke athletics
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.