After strong singles performances propelled Duke's run to the semifinals at last week's ITA indoor nationals, the Blue Devils picked up where they left off to start the outdoor season.
No. 4 Duke trounced N.C. State 6-1 in its ACC opener Sunday on the road at J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center in Raleigh. The Blue Devils easily clinched the match with four straight-set victories in singles after winning the doubles point comfortably.
"Our singles play was good,” head coach Jamie Ashworth told GoDuke.com. “Playing outside takes a little bit more patience. The points are longer, which we have to keep getting used to. You get more balls back playing outside, so you have to play points to the very end and value every point we play."
The Blue Devils swapped their first and second doubles pairs in their lineup for the first time all season, moving the ITA No. 2 team of Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin to Court 1. No. 5 Samantha Harris and Kelly Chen moved down to Court 2 and cruised past Adriana Reami and Amanda Rebol 6-2. That win put Duke (7-1) in front 1-0 after Meible Chi and Hannah Zhao had come away with a 6-2 victory on Court 3.
McCarthy and Hamlin's top-10 showdown against No. 7 Anna Rogers and Claudia Wiktorin was left unfinished, with the Blue Devil pair ahead 4-3.
Duke quickly sealed the team win with singles victories by Chi, Hamlin and Zhao on the bottom three courts. None of three Blue Devils lost more than four games in their entire match. No. 30 Chen also wrapped up a 6-3, 7-5 win on Court 2, but the Wolfpack (4-5) pushed two matches the distance.
No. 9 Harris was challenged by Rogers on Court 1, though she eventually pulled away in the third set to win 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. But N.C. State denied Duke a sweep when Wiktorin upset No. 62 McCarthy by winning a super-tiebreaker 10-6 after splitting the first two sets. It was McCarthy's first ACC singles loss in two years after she went a perfect 14-0 last season.
The Blue Devils will now take a two-week break from ACC play and host Dartmouth next Sunday at noon.