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Duke women's tennis sweeps Gonzaga and Old Dominion, will advance in ITA team indoors

<p>Maria Mateas has looked strong at the top singles spot.</p>

Maria Mateas has looked strong at the top singles spot.

In the first back-to-back match sequence of the season, the Blue Devils used strong play on both the singles and doubles side to cruise to the next round of the top nonconference event of the early spring.

Duke opened up the weekend slate with a 4-0 victory against Gonzaga. Then a little more than 24 hours later at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center, the Blue Devils booked their trip cross country to Seattle to compete in the next round of the ITA team indoor championships as the Blue and White blew past Old Dominion by the same score.

The first doubles match of the weekend for Duke did not go as well as the rest of the weekend as the senior duo of Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin fell to Gonzaga’s Sophie Whittle and Graciela Rosas. But after that decision, Duke was perfect and didn’t drop another singles or doubles match. The second and third doubles matches went to the Blue Devils as they took an early 1-0 match advantage.

On the top court, in only her fourth career dual match, freshman No. 8 Maria Mateas faced No. 5 Whittle, who knocked off the freshman in three sets in the championship match at the ITA All-Americans in the fall.

In a tight first set, Whittle got the best of Mateas as the Gonzaga senior took the opening frame. But Mateas took the opening game of the second set and the dual match finished soon after with Duke winning three other singles courts in straight sets.

Blue Devil sophomore No. 37 Kelly Chen was first off the court after taking both the first and second sets 6-1 against No. 79 Domonique Garley. On Court 4, freshman Margaryta Bilokin won 6-3, 6-0 to put Duke within one match of the victory, which came via a 6-1, 6-3 clinching victory for Hamlin.

“I thought we competed really well in singles,” Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth told Saturday. “Every time Ellyse plays, she plays better and better. Margaryta is also getting better and better every time she gets on the court.”

Junior No. 10 Meible Chi held a 6-2, 4-3 lead at the match’s conclusion while sophomore Hannah Zhao led 6-4, 4-1.

In the next dual match against Old Dominion (3-1), the Blue Devils (4-0) stormed out to early leads on the doubles side. McCarthy and Hamlin bounced back and won 6-3 while Chen and Chi earned the 6-2 victory in the third position.

After being the first pair off the court in doubles, Chen accomplished the same feat on the singles side and her doubles partner was not far behind.

Chen took out her opponent 6-3, 6-3 on Court 3 to place the home team two wins away from a trip to the Round of 16. On court 2, Chi needed just one more game than her teammate to earn the 6-3, 6-4 victory.

“We didn’t seize control on every court until the middle of the first set. Old Dominion came out ready to fight and ready to compete and I was happy with how we were able to raise our level when we needed to,” Ashworth told Sunday.

To close out the weekend slate of back-to-back matches, Hamlin clinched the dual match for the second consecutive time with a 6-2, 6-4 win.

No. 58 McCarthy lost the first set and was up 3-0 as Hamlin clinched the win. Bilokin took the first set 7-5 and held a close 3-2 second set advantage. On Court 1, Mateas won the first set 7-5 and like McCarthy, held a 3-0 lead in the unfinished match.

“Our team did a really good job this weekend,” Hamlin told Sunday. “Today was a tough match but I’m really happy with how we competed as a team and came together … I’m happy for some days off. We’ve been training really hard and that will be a good couple days to regroup, relax, get some sleep, catch up on some school work and get back to work.”

Duke will host No. 18 Illinois Feb. 3 at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center before heading out west Feb. 8-11 for the ITA Team Indoor Championships.