ChronSports' Top 10 of 2022 — No. 4: Duke women’s tennis captures ACC crown on road to Final Four appearance

Kelly Chen celebrates after delivering Duke to a 4-3 win against N.C. State in the Elite Eight.
Kelly Chen celebrates after delivering Duke to a 4-3 win against N.C. State in the Elite Eight.

As 2022 comes to a close, The Chronicle's sports department takes a look back at the biggest stories of the year in Duke athletics. Each day, we will review a major game, event or storyline that helped shape the course of the year for the Blue Devils. 

Coming in at No. 4: Duke women's tennis had a special spring season, complete with an ACC title and Final Four appearance. For the full list, click here.

For the first time since 2012, Duke lifted the ACC Championship trophy, leaving Rome, Ga., victorious over Virginia. With banners raised, all roads led past Rome and to Champaign, Ill., where the Blue Devils’ high hopes for the NCAA championship were ultimately dashed in the Final Four.

Duke’s path to its 4-1 victory in the ACC title match started with doubles sets that left the team with emotions “unbelievable to see,” according to head coach Jamie Ashworth. The doubles point came down to senior Georgia Drummy and sophomore Karolina Berankova, after junior Chloe Beck and freshman Ellie Coleman’s 6-1 defeat was followed by an equally sound 6-2 victory by the pairing of graduate student Eliza Omirou and senior Margaryta Bilokin. Down 6-5 against Emma Navarro and Hibah Shaikh, the Drummy-Berankova won their set in a 7-4 tiebreaker to nab an early lead for the Blue Devils. 

The momentum didn’t stop there. Navarro notched the Cavaliers’ sole point of the day at No. 1 singles, but victories from Drummy and Coleman only widened the Blue Devils’ lead to 3-1. 

As the day came to a close, the championship dream hinged on yet another tiebreaker. Cavalier freshman Elaine Chervinsky forced a third-set tiebreaker against Duke freshman Emma Jackson, who lost the first set 6-3 but won the second by the same score. Undeterred at the precipice of victory, Jackson closed out the match 7-6 in the third set, winning the tiebreaker 7-3. With that final point, the Blue Devils ended a decade-long championship drought. 

Just as Rome wasn’t built in one day, victory at Rome was months in the making. The day before, the Blue Devils battled No. 3-seed Miami in a hard-fought 4-3 semifinal win, with senior Kelly Chen’s grueling three-set win pushing the Blue Devils to the finals. In the quarterfinals, they defeated Wake Forest 4-2 after dominant straight-set wins in four singles matches. In the regular season, Duke spoiled then-No. 1 North Carolina’s undefeated record, weeks after defeating then-No. 2 N.C. State 4-3. 

Two weeks after their ACC championship, the Blue Devils started the first round of the NCAA tournament with a decisive 4-0 win against Quinnipiac, dropping not a single set that day. Their second-round 4-1 triumph against Old Dominion moved the team to its fourth consecutive NCAA round of 16. 

They inched closer to their goal, defeating No. 14-seed Georgia 4-1 and advancing to the quarterfinals with a 4-3 victory against N.C. State—but their season came to a close in the Final Four after a 4-3 loss against No. 2-seed Oklahoma. 

“They grew and they got better. And they became better as individuals, and became a better team along the way. So, we couldn't be prouder of the effort that they put in,” Ashworth said after Duke’s Final Four loss. 

Despite falling just short in the NCAA tournament, Duke finished its season with the No. 1 ranking in the Carolina Region, six athletes in the final ITA rankings and two ITA All-Americans. With spring right around the corner, the Blue Devils are primed to take on their next season—with great expectations behind them.

READ MORE on Duke women's tennis' season:

WON IN ROME: Duke women's tennis defeats Virginia to claim ACC title

'We couldn't be prouder': Duke women's tennis falls to Oklahoma in marathon Final Four matchup

'A great ride': Magic runs out for Duke women's tennis in Final Four loss to Oklahoma

Duke women's tennis ends top-ranked North Carolina's pursuit of perfection in regular-season finale

Duke women's tennis head coach Jamie Ashworth named ACC Coach of the Year

Audrey Wang profile
Audrey Wang | Editor-in-Chief

Audrey Wang is a Trinity junior and editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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