Duke continued to roll Sunday with a 7-0 victory against Appalachian State. While everyone clearly contributed to the dominating sweep, it was graduate student Meible Chi who led the way.
Chi, who the ITA named as the 2020 Arthur Ashe Jr. Leadership and Sportsmanship Award winner, returned this season for her fifth year, bringing her great experience back to the roster once again. The Florida native has been one of the main features of the program for the last four years, and her immense impact toward Duke's success cannot be understated.
“I honestly don’t know if we can put into words what [Chi] means to our program, having her back here,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “The qualities that she has as a leader and the standards that she sets on the court are great for everybody to see both in practice and in matches.... There’s too many things to narrow down to some words what she’s brought [to the program].”
Chi teamed up with junior Margaryta Bilokin on Court 1 for doubles Sunday. The duo has become a familiar feature of the Blue Devils, having competed as partners for much of the 2019-20 season. Their chemistry on the court was clear to see in their 6-0 sweep over María José Zacarias and Teodora Sevo, which set the tone for the day.
Chi and the rest of the Duke team never let up against the Mountaineers, even after easily capturing the doubles point. In singles, Chi continued her dominance by opening with a 6-1 victory in the first set. She then followed that up with an unblemished 6-0 win in the second set to secure the point for the team.
Although Chi’s impact off the court may be less visible than her contributions on the scoreboard, redshirt sophomore Georgia Drummy has high praise for Chi’s work as a mentor.
“I just look up to [Chi] for guidance; she always helps me,” Drummy said. “I can ask her any questions I have or stay after practice and work with her. It’s been amazing.”
Drummy, a transfer from Vanderbilt already playing near the top of the Duke lineup, found similar success against Appalachian State. She opened up the afternoon with a 6-0 sweep in doubles alongside senior Kelly Chen on Court 2 and kept the momentum going with a 6-2, 6-0 victory on Court 1 in singles.
Riding strong showings from Drummy and Chi, Duke raced by the Mountaineers without dropping a set to secure its second straight victory. Although the team has remained focused on the task at hand, Ashworth has the team ready for the oncoming period of conference play.
“This is a big week for us,” Ashworth said. “We have one more match before we get into the ACC schedule, which is as tough of a conference as any in the country. Every match is going to be a battle. We’re looking forward to really seeing where we are right now. It’ll be good to put ourselves in pressure situations, and we’re excited about what’s ahead.”
No one is more familiar with that tough conference schedule than Chi. Even in a year filled with uncertainties, she has four seasons under her belt to guide the team to success.
And if Sunday’s match was any indication, Chi will have more than just experience to help the Blue Devils. Her talent on the court, combined with a roster full of elite players, has raised the bar for Duke women’s tennis. Hopefully, this year’s season can raise that bar even higher.
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