It’s not often that teammates compete against each other, especially in a match against another school. However, since Sunday’s matches against Charleston Southern and Charlotte ended once one school reached four victories, the singles players for Duke were competing to be the ones to finish their matches first.
Duke won both matches at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center by a score of 4-0 with different players earning points in each match. In a doubleheader, head coach Jamie Ashworth utilized his entire roster, including the first dual match appearance from freshman Katie Codd, who was winning her match 6-2, 5-2 before it was stopped. It was a showcase of Duke’s depth, as the roster performed top to bottom, with wins from court one to court five.
“We've been talking about playing to a standard and playing the ball, not playing the opponent,” Ashworth said. “It shouldn't matter who's on the other side of the net. We need to do the right things ourselves.”
Duke (3-0) first squared off against Charleston Southern (0-2) Sunday morning. The Blue Devils came out to a strong start in doubles play, with all three tandems earning early breaks and the team dropping just three games between the three matches.
Playing on court one, the pair of Chloe Beck and Cameron Morra overpowered Charleston Southern’s top two, and a strong service game from Emma Jackson helped propel her and partner Iuliia Bryzgalova to a quick 6-0 victory. Court three was no different, as Ellie Coleman and Karolina Berankova took down Tiffany Pyritz and Zoe Cauthen 6-1.
“The doubles was quick, that kind of set the tone going into the singles. I thought we did a good job, especially with the start of doubles across the board,” Ashworth said.
On the singles side, Brianna Shvets, who made her dual match debut for Duke earlier in the week against Furman, again looked in form against Pyritz. In the first match to finish on the day, Shvets came out on top 6-1, 6-0. She was followed by Morra, who won her match 6-3, 6-2. Coleman closed it out for the Blue Devils, beating Cauthen 6-1, 6-2. Duke led the remaining three matches at the time they were abandoned.
Duke stuck with the same three pairs in their second match of the day against Charlotte (1-1). While both Coleman/Berankova and Jackson/Bryzgalova opened to 3-0 leads, Beck/Morra dropped an early break and fell behind 3-1 to Charlotte’s top duo. Thanks to their teammates' quick work, Beck and Morra got off the hook without having to finish their match.
“Everybody in the country has a good number one, number two, and so forth... It really doesn't matter where the school is, or who the school is, they're gonna have a couple of good players and those players have played in regional events and national events,” Ashworth said.
While they struggled in doubles, Beck and Morra came out firing in their respective singles matches, each breaking their opponent twice in their first three service games. Beck ended up as one of the three Blue Devils to win her singles match before the others were called, and Morra ended only one game away. Playing on the top two courts for Duke, both experienced players showed why they have won a combined 178 singles matches.
Jackson and Coleman also won their matches against Charlotte, and all six courts represented a Duke lead by the time the match ended. Despite the fact that many of them had already played a match that day, each Blue Devil appeared to improve as the match went on. In fact, Duke did not drop a set all day.
Looking forward to the ITA Kickoff weekend where the Blue Devils will square off against VCU and either SMU or Wisconsin, this continued success from top to bottom will be essential if Duke hopes to qualify for Indoor Team Nationals. The Blue Devils look to continue their dominance as they aim to bolster their preseason No. 6 ranking.
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