No. 6 Duke had its seven-match winning streak snapped via a 2-5 defeat at Georgia Tech Friday, the team’s second loss to the Yellow Jackets this season.
However, the Blue Devils rebounded with a complete turnaround at Clemson two days later, notching victories across the board en route to a decisive 6-1 win.
“We talked a lot about embracing pressure situations…when you have those opportunities...know that you worked hard to get in that moment,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “We can’t run from moments when it gets tight or close—we have to embrace it and have a more fight mentality than a flight mentality.”
This fighting mentality served Duke (10-2, 5-1 in the ACC) well against the Tigers (5-10, 0-7). Stepping onto the court with this new mindset following Friday’s defeat, the change was evident. The Blue Devils played with confidence, earning significant early leads in their matches.
Meible Chi in particular continued to impress. The graduate student teamed with junior Margaryta Bilokin for a 6-3 victory on Court 1 in doubles before taking down Clemson’s Mackenzy Middlebrooks 6-0, 6-4 in singles.
Another notable performance came from sophomore Chloe Beck. Despite trailing 0-3 in the first set of her singles match against the Tigers’ Cristina Mayorova, Beck came back to win 6-4, 6-3. After losing in both singles and doubles at Georgia Tech, Beck went into her Sunday matches with newfound energy and a shift in attitude.
“I think it is just a mindset…knowing that we worked so hard to get to this point and to be able to have tough matches and play great players,” Beck said. “I think that we’ve prepared ourselves really well, just continuing to embrace the challenge…and just enjoy the moment and embrace the opportunity.”
Duke started strong against No. 13 Georgia Tech, with senior Kelly Chen and redshirt sophomore Georgia Drummy winning 6-2 in the first doubles finish of the day. Beck and freshman Karolina Berankova would take a 3-2 lead in their doubles match as well, but eventually fell 6-4, meaning it all came down to Bilokin and Chi for the doubles point.
The Blue Devil duo trailed behind the Yellow Jackets’ Kenya Jones and Victoria Flores—the fifth-ranked doubles pair in the country—before fighting to tie the match 6-6. Despite their persistence, Biolkin and Chi fell 3-7 in the tiebreaker, and Georgia Tech took a 1-0 lead in the match.
Drummy and Chi earned wins in singles, but it wasn’t enough.
Looking forward, Duke will face off against No. 1 North Carolina this Friday. The Tar Heels are coming off of a 6-1 victory against Georgia Tech (11-7, 4-3) this past Sunday and remain unbeaten on the season.
“In practice, we just have to value every ball that we have, every opportunity we have to get better, and embrace the moments and not run from those moments,” Ashworth said. “Obviously UNC is a great team, and they’re well-coached, and we have to rise to that challenge by having an aggressive week of practice on the courts and continuing to get better.”
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