The Tobacco Road rivalry traveled to San Diego this weekend for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Fall Championships. Duke senior Chloe Beck defeated North Carolina’s Anika Yarlagadda in straight sets (6-1, 6-3) Sunday in the consolation championship. Beck was dominant in the tournament, advancing to the finals after defeating No. 2-seed Sarah Hamner of South Carolina in another straight-set 6-2, 7-6 victory Saturday.
While the rivalry between Duke and North Carolina can invigorate any match between the two schools, it can also bring extra pressure, even in San Diego. Beck likes the rivalry between the two schools, not only because of the friendship between the teams but because of that extra pressure.
“I definitely think having some sort of a rivalry gets me more dialed in,” Beck said. “Regardless of who I’m playing.”
Beck overcame the extra pressure and brought Duke a long-distance individual win over North Carolina. The senior dominated in the first set, winning 6-1, saving 100% of potential break points and breaking Yarlagadda’s serve 4-of-5 times. Beck did not shy away from the crucial points, staying consistent and aggressive, capitalizing on every opportunity presented by her opponent.
Head coach Jamie Ashworth emphasized the importance of being aggressive on every point. “In those situations,” he said, “you just have to stay true to who you are, and true to your personality.”
By capitalizing on all opportunities against Yarlagadda, Beck won on 62% of her opponent’s second serves. By treating every point equally, she dominated her way through the consolation draw over the course of four days.
Beck maintained aggression throughout the week, drawing her opponents up to the net before expertly executing with her slice. Noting the lack of slice in women’s tennis, Beck said that net play helps her to elevate her game.
“It’s definitely something that helps me pull out tough matches and make my opponents uncomfortable,” Beck said. The innovation and shot selection showed up throughout the match, displaying her creativity in all aspects of the game.
The rest of the team closed Saturday at the N.C. State Invitational, with split singles matches and a doubles win over N.C State. Senior Georgia Drummy defeated Mai Nirundorn of Georgia in straight sets, while graduate student Iuliia Bryzgalova fell to Guillermina Grant in three sets, with two out of three sets going to tiebreakers. Going into the N.C. State invitational, Duke had likely hoped to last longer into the three-day tournament, leaving the team yearning for more.
With the fall aspect of Duke’s season over, Ashworth commented on the mixed results this weekend and the overall rollercoaster of a season. He attributed the slow start to some new changes within the organization. With a new assistant coach in Daniel Leitner and four incoming freshmen, the team took time to integrate and adjust after a long summer off from match play.
“We talked about that change doesn’t necessarily mean we’re changing because something is wrong,” Ashworth said. “We have to take some time to embrace that change.”
The Blue Devils have a chance to embrace that change before January, allowing the team more time to integrate and adjust to its new aspects.
“When we’re all out there together, we’re like yelling for Duke. Just the atmosphere is different. I’m looking forward to the team camaraderie, and competing as a whole unit versus individually.”
Over the next few months, Duke has the opportunity to embrace those changes before the beginning of the spring season in January.
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