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Historic moments: Duke women's tennis captures individual and team crowns

The performance of freshman Mallory Cecil helped deliver both the individual and team NCAA titles to Durham.
The performance of freshman Mallory Cecil helped deliver both the individual and team NCAA titles to Durham.

The Chronicle’s best wins bracket previously introduced some of Duke men’s basketball’s top moments throughout the years. This new series coincides with those moments, shedding light on some of Duke Athletics’ other highlights throughout the school’s storied history. We hope you enjoy this stroll down memory lane. Today's moment: Duke dominates all aspects of the women's tennis postseason in 2009. 

The day before The Black Eyed Peas released the number one song of the year, “I Gotta Feeling,” the Duke Blue Devils claimed their only women’s tennis national championship. A few days later, Mallory Cecil completed Duke’s historic season by winning the NCAA Women’s Tennis Singles Championship.

Standing out for Duke in the team tournament was Reke Zsilinszka, who was named the tournament MVP. The final victory, a 4-0 defeat of California, was not an irregularity for the Blue Devils during this impressive season. 

Duke skated through the regular season relatively unscathed, suffering three losses but managing to head into the ACC tournament with the second seed. After crushing Virginia in the quarterfinals, the Blue Devils held off North Carolina and then-number one Miami to win the ACC.

In the NCAA tournament, the Blue Devils dominated their competition, never losing more than two individual matches the rest of the way. 

Miami and Duke clashed again in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals, and the Blue Devils were once again able to best the Hurricanes. Duke’s two postseason victories against Miami were even sweeter considering the fact that the Hurricanes had handed the Blue Devils their only ACC loss earlier in the year.

Cecil was purely remarkable all season long. Before Zion Williamson, she was Duke’s freshman phenom from Spartanburg, S.C. She recorded a 32-4 record, leading the Blue Devils the entire season as their number one singles player. 

She dazzled for the entire singles tournament, winning all six matches in straight-sets and doing so before her 19th birthday. 

Her success took her away from Duke and launched her into the professional circuit until later in 2010 when she tore a labrum in her hip. Cecil came back to Duke to continue being a student after she decided to retire from professional tennis. 

The 2009 women’s tennis season was one of the greatest seasons across all of Duke sports with the Blue Devils having the best overall team and player in the entire NCAA. This feat has only been accomplished by one other school since, with Stanford and Nicole Gibbs winning both in 2013. 

Jake C. Piazza

Jake Piazza is a Trinity senior and was sports editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.


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