Duke is catching fire.
The Blue Devils continued their undefeated spring season with commanding 7-0 wins over Georgetown and N.C. Central Sunday after taking down Harvard with the same score Saturday. Duke was utterly dominant from start to finish in each contest, and the lopsided final scores still fail to convey just how impressive the Blue Devils were.
In doubles against the Hoyas, the duo of freshman Katie Codd and graduate student Brianna Shvets dispatched their Georgetown counterparts 6-0 in a match that was over in a flash. What’s more, the tandem did not lose a single point in three of those six games. It was a similar story on court one, as senior Chloe Beck and graduate student Cameron Morra won eight straight points to go up 2-0 before finally conceding a 15-0 disadvantage on a volley winner. The duo promptly responded by rattling off four quick games to secure a second 6-0 win for the Blue Devils and end the doubles play in about 20 minutes. In four out of the six games, Beck and Morra did not concede a point.
“We felt like after we played [Saturday] that we didn’t do a great job of our doubles, so we had a concentrated effort early in the doubles points doing things the right way,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “I thought we were able to do that. We made a lot of first serves, made a lot of returns, it was what we were looking for."
The admission from Ashworth of his team’s discontent with its doubles play against Harvard on Saturday is striking, as Duke (8-0) won all three of its doubles matches against the Crimson (3-3). Such an attitude might help explain the team’s success-it is constantly seeking to improve even when the ship is smooth sailing.
Another factor in Duke’s favor? Chloe Beck. The senior has excellent hands at the net and frequently put away volleys for the Blue Devils in her doubles tilt. A case in point was the fourth game of the match, which began with Beck executing a short angle volley to put her side up 15-0. In the next point, she struck another volley, this time with more power, to the ad court to secure a 30-0 advantage. Up 40-0, Duke took the game with another Beck volley.
“She’s a great doubles player, she’s got great hands and great anticipation. She’s had a lot of success in doubles, it doesn’t really matter who her partner has been,” said Ashworth. “I think its her game style a little bit too, she’s very handsy and very creative and I think that goes hand-in-hand."
The singles was more of the same for the Blue Devils: dominant, lopsided victories. Shvets was the first to win a point for the Blue Devils, earning a resounding victory over Georgetown’s Paige Gilbert. The New Jersey native won ten straight games before her Hoya opponent was able to get on the board, and Shvets would shut the door shortly thereafter to put Duke up 2-0 on the day.
Next to emerge victorious was graduate student Georgia Drummy. Drummy successfully equipped a highly aggressive and confident singles game, using her high racquet head speed to frequently attempt winners in the corners of the court. The aggressive style was particularly visible in the last game of the first set. The graduate student from Ireland began her service game with a hard-struck forehand winner to the deuce side before another winner put her up 30-0. Drummy hit a high-speed first serve that her Georgetown opponent sent into the ceiling of Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.
“When she [Drummy] is playing her best and playing well she plays free. If she misses she understands that with her gamestyle she’s gonna miss some balls, but she doesn’t let that affect her and she just goes out and swings on the next ball," Ashworth said.
Duke clinched the match with Beck’s straight-sets win over Georgetown’s Avantika Willy. Starting off strong, the senior did not lose a point until the beginning of the fourth game. Beck was able to frustrate Willy by repeatedly employing a pesky slice backhand that seemed to skid off of the court. After failing to win a game in the first set, Wily fought to 5-1 in the second with Duke serving for the match. Here, the Georgetown junior was able to break Beck, but the Duke senior would secure the next game to clinch the dual match victory for the Blue Devils.
Sunday evening's match against N.C. Central was a similar story. Just like in its win against the Hoyas (3-2), Duke won both doubles matches before coming out on top in all six singles contests. In two of the singles matches against the Eagles (1-4), Duke did not concede a single game.
The overall takeaway? Duke is firing on all cylinders and living up to its No. 4 national ranking. The Blue Devils competed in 18 matches Sunday and did not drop a set in any of them.
Of course, Duke will face much stiffer competition as the season progresses. The Blue Devils will eventually have to contend with the likes of North Carolina, Virginia, and N.C. State, all currently ranked in the top 25. Nonetheless, it is clear that Duke is playing quality tennis and showcasing its potential to make deep runs in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.
The team will look to carry its momentum into ITA National Team Indoors next week in Seattle.
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