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Duke women's tennis 2021 season preview

Senior Kelly Chen leads the Blue Devils as the eighth-ranked singles player in the country.
Senior Kelly Chen leads the Blue Devils as the eighth-ranked singles player in the country.


Behind high-level returners and a couple of fresh faces, Duke looks to make its third straight Final Four appearance in three full seasons. 

Karolina Berankova, the sixth-ranked incoming freshman in the country, as well as Vanderbilt redshirt sophomore transfer Georgia Drummy represent the newcomers. The remaining six players are all returners, led by senior Kelly Chen and graduate student Meible Chi. While the Blue Devils may have fallen slightly from their preseason No. 6 ranking due to a rare early-season loss, they have the talent to regain and potentially surpass that spot in conference play. -Campbell Lawson

New player to watch: Georgia Drummy

Joining the Blue Devils from Vanderbilt, Drummy has the talent to raise the bar for Duke women’s tennis. The Ireland native, currently ITA’s 28th-ranked singles player in the country, finished her freshman year at Vanderbilt as the team’s top singles player. Already demonstrating her ability with a 3-1 singles record through nonconference play this season, Drummy’s addition can take the Blue Devils to the next level. -Matthew Hawkins

Returning player to watch: Kelly Chen

Ranked as the No. 8 singles player in the country, Chen takes on her senior season with high expectations and an established reputation. Already nearing her 100th career singles victory, Chen’s career at Duke has been impressive to say the least, and she’s not done yet. Not only will Chen be a valuable leader to the team, she will have a chance to chase individual titles in both the ACC and NCAA Championships. -Hawkins

Most anticipated matchup: at North Carolina, March 19

North Carolina entered this season as the No. 1 ranked team in the country and has handily retained that spot through nonconference play. Duke came into the year at No. 6 and has dropped slightly since then, but remains at No. 10. As such, the Blue Devils’ lone regular-season matchup against the Tar Heels is certain to be the most anticipated match of the campaign. -Lawson

Best-case scenario 

With an experienced and talented roster, the sky's the limit for the Blue Devils this season. Under the leadership of Chi and Chen, it’s hard to imagine that this team doesn’t remain competitive until May. But if the additions of Berankova and Drummy can play to their potential, Duke should have a good chance to make a splash in the postseason. If all goes right, the Blue Devils will be right in the mix for both the ACC and NCAA titles. -Hawkins

Worst-case scenario

The worst-case scenario for this year’s Blue Devil squad is that they prove unable to finish in singles matches, as was the case against Georgia Tech during the ITA Kickoff Weekend, leading to more surprising upset defeats. The ACC is likely the best conference in the country. If Duke can’t find consistency, early exits in both the ACC and NCAA Championships are certainly not out of the question. -Lawson


Lawson: 16-4 (10-3 in the ACC), loss in ACC semifinals, loss in NCAA semifinals

Hawkins: 15-5 (9-4 in the ACC), loss in ACC finals, loss in NCAA quarterfinals

Editor's note: This is a part of The Chronicle's series of previews for Duke's spring sports, the rest of which can be found here.


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