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Duke women's tennis quartet treks to California for Riviera/ITA Women's All-American championship

<p>Sophomore&nbsp;Kaitlyn McCarthy will open her season this week in&nbsp;Pacific Palisades, Calif., against some of the nation's best players.&nbsp;</p>

Sophomore Kaitlyn McCarthy will open her season this week in Pacific Palisades, Calif., against some of the nation's best players. 

After opening their season at the James Bronk Invitational in early September, several Blue Devils will try to build their confidence as they split up for the weekend. 

Senior Chalena Scholl, sophomores Ellyse Hamlin and Kaitlyn McCarthy and freshman Meible Chi will travel to Pacific Palisades, Calif., for the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American championship starting Saturday and extending into next week. The tournament will feature prequalifying and qualifying rounds against top individuals from programs across the country, with play in the main draw expected to begin toward the middle of next week. 

Senior Alyssa Smith and redshirt sophomore Christina Makarova will round out the string of Blue Devils performing this weekend as the two upperclassmen travel to the Wake Forest Invitational in Winston Salem, N.C., Friday through Sunday. 

"Individual confidence breeds team confidence. If one or a couple of people do well, it trickles down to everybody else in all these tournaments,” Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “Any time we can get wins and positive results, it trickles down and it forces others to make sure they’re working as hard as their teammates.”

Scholl, the 40th-best singles player in the nation, will make the trip to California to play in the Riviera tournament for the first team in her Duke career. The Pompano Beach, Fla., has entered this season with high expectations after taking over the No. 1 spot during Duke's spring campaign and finishing as an All-ACC performer. 

She will try to build off her performance at the James Bronk Invitational, where she finished second in her draw after winning two out of her three matches. 

“Scholl needs to—for herself and for the team—prove that she can be one of the best players in the country. She’s practiced well and she’s hitting the ball well,” Ashworth said. “Now she has a couple of matches under her belt and she can definitely build on that.”

The Blue Devils will also receive a boost with McCarthy, Sholl's doubles partner, making her season debut. The Cary, N.C., native—who is Duke's highest ranked player at No. 34—has shown poise in singles matches while in Durham and was the only Blue Devil who reached the Round of 32 at the NCAA singles championship a season ago. 

With McCarthy sitting out at the James Bronk Invitational, Chi got off to an impressive start in her collegiate debut, finishing in first place at Duke's season-opener. The Weston, Fla., native won every set of her three matches after arriving in Durham as a top-10 recruit this summer. 

But making a mark this weekend will be more difficult. Unlike Scholl and McCarthy, Chi will have to forge her way through pre-qualifying matches to reach the qualifying round. 

“Within some of the sets, [Chi] was down and she held her composure. Her coachability was really high,” Ashworth said referring to her outing at the James Bronk Invitational. “She was willing to try some things and do some things that she wasn’t as comfortable with.”

In doubles, Chi will play with Hamlin, who will also start off in the pre-qualifying round. The tandem is Duke’s highest ranked doubles’ pairing, with the duo coming into the season ranked 39th in the nation.

The two upperclassmen that did not qualify for the tournament across the country—Smith and Harris—will play both singles and doubles at Wake Forest. Although Smith played primarily with Scholl in doubles’ last season, Ashworth acknowledged that the Blue Devils will be shuffling every player to find the perfect combinations by next spring.

"[Fall tournaments] give us an idea of the level that we’re playing at compared to other teams and where those players fit in on a team as well. It’s really what we use as a starting point for the spring,” Ashworth said. “Our girls know that they’re always being judged and every result matters and counts. When it comes to January when we play our first match, this is the stuff we use as a starting point to create lineups and doubles teams.”

Update: This story was corrected to note that Makarova will play in the Wake Forest Invitational rather than junior Samantha Harris—the switch was announced by the team Thursday afternoon.