No. 14 Duke women's tennis taken down by Miami, Florida State on weekend trip to kick off ACC play

Freshman Shavit Kimchi serves in Duke's Jan. 18 win against Charlotte.
Freshman Shavit Kimchi serves in Duke's Jan. 18 win against Charlotte.

Breaks can be good. It allows time to rest up and regroup before heading into another busy season. 

Unfortunately for the 14th-ranked Blue Devils, the return from their 22-day hiatus did not go to plan as they dropped both of their opening road — and conference — matches, falling Friday to Miami, 5-2, and Sunday to Florida State, 6-1. 

“We have to make sure that we play with a high level of energy every single point that we play. Win or lose the doubles point, we can’t let that affect our singles play,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said about the weekend. 

Duke (6-4, 0-2 in the ACC) last played Feb. 3 against then-No. 13 UCLA and defeated the Bruins 4-0, despite having lost to them in the second round of the NCAA tournament last season. 

The Blue Devils then had two weekends off — totaling 22 days — before they continued their road trip to Florida this weekend, this time without junior Ellie Coleman for the two matches. 

“I think that’s us trying to find excuses, honestly…” said  Ashworth. “We were rested and we were ready to play.” 

While the amount of rest the Blue Devils had may have not been a factor, their doubles performance was: They dropped both doubles points this weekend. This was the fifth time this season that Duke has dropped the doubles point, with only one pairing collecting a doubles win. That win came from graduate students Iuliia Bryzgalova and Brianna Shvets on Sunday as they came back from a 2-0 deficit, winning four games in a row to eventually take the match 6-4. 

The doubles point on Sunday afternoon against Florida State (5-4, 1-1) was a heartbreaker as two out of three of the matches went to tiebreakers, with Duke surrendering both of them, despite both Blue Devil pairs establishing leads late in the sets. Notably, the regular Duke doubles lineup was switched between the No. 1 and No. 2 slots to adjust for Coleman’s absence. 

On court 1, junior Emma Jackson and senior Karolina Berankova were able to win two games in a row to make it 6-5, before the Seminoles eventually tied it 6-6 and won the tiebreaker 7-1. Court 2 also struggled to maintain a lead. Though freshman Shavit Kimchi and sophomore Katie Codd started out with a 2-0 lead in the set, they eventually fell 7-4 in the tiebreaker. 

“Honestly, we should have won the doubles point today,” Ashworth said. “[We'll focus on] just taking advantage of opportunities and making serves and finishing points when we have the chance.” 

A bright spot of the weekend was Jackson and Shvets. Friday afternoon in the match against the Hurricanes (3-3, 1-1), Jackson recorded her third career victory against a top-10 ranked opponent. She beat No. 10 Alexa Noel in singles in a tiebreaking third set. Jackson dropped the first set 6-3 and rebounded from a 4-2 deficit in the second set to take it to a third. The tiebreaker was tight the entire time before Jackson won three straight points to take a 8-6 lead, then won 10-8. The other win on Friday afternoon came from Bryzgalova who defeated her opponent in three sets as well, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2. 

Shvets proved to be the highlight on Sunday as she registered the singular point for Duke with a singles win on court 5, in addition to winning her doubles contest. Despite Florida State carrying over the momentum from its doubles win and winning the first set on five out of six courts, Shvets was able to hold her own as she jumped out to a 3-1 lead. Even though her advantage slipped briefly, Shvets won the first set 6-4, and won five of her next seven games to also take the second set 6-4. 

With just the three singles wins this weekend, Duke struggled. 

“We lost a really tough doubles point and we kind of felt sorry for ourselves going into singles. We just can’t afford to do that,” Ashworth said about the singles performance against Florida State. 

“We just have to work on fundamental stuff — making serves and finishing points.”

While the Blue Devils do not have as large of a break, they have until next weekend to bounce back as they take on Syracuse and Boston College to kick off a four-match home stand. 


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