Spring sport spotlight: Shvets stars despite Duke women's tennis' struggles

Brianna Shvets hits a forehand for Duke women's tennis.
Brianna Shvets hits a forehand for Duke women's tennis.

As the collegiate sports spring season comes to an end, the Blue Zone is here to shine a spot light on the Duke women's tennis team:

Duke women’s tennis faced off against Wake Forest in the first round of the ACC tournament Thursday. Unsurprisingly, as has been the case with many of the Blue Devils’ matches this season, the evening saw a Brianna Shvets victory on Court 5. The grad transfer from Princeton won in straight sets, contributing to a 4-0 sweep for Duke. Thursday’s win brought Shvets’ win total to 14 on the season, with only five losses and two games left unfinished. Shvets’ performances have been a crucial factor in whether the Blue Devils emerge victorious or fall to their opponents. Notably, since the start of March, the Blue Devils have come out on top in each of Shvets’ eight victories, while the three encounters which she has lost during that same time frame have been marked by a Duke defeat. 

Originally from Pennington, N.J, Shvets played three seasons of tennis at Princeton, with her 2020-21 season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following her 2021-22 campaign, she transferred to Duke, registering a brilliant 2023 season in her first year in Durham; Shvets went 17-2 in singles play, and was a crucial piece in the Blue Devils’ run to the NCAA tournament second round. This year has been mostly disappointing by Duke women’s tennis standards, partly because the roster saw significant turnover during the offseason, leaving the team with only seven total players. Star player Chloe Beck did not return in order to pursue a career professionally, while head coach Jamie Ashworth brought in freshman Shavit Kimchi, a highly-touted recruit who has alternated between Courts 1 and 2 throughout the season. Yet, the Blue Devils have struggled to perform relative to expectations throughout most of their matches, especially as compared to the standard they set last year. The 2022-23 season saw the Duke lose just two of its conference matches en route to a 23-5 overall record, but Ashworth’s squad finished just 15-8 this time around, with seven wins and six losses in conference play. Although much of the team has struggled in 2024, throughout it all, Shvets has been an anchor at the back of the rotation for Ashworth. The 26th year head coach has frequently expressed his desire that the rest of the team share her competitive fire, a sentiment he repeated Friday before the Blue Devils’ encounter against UNC in the second round of the ACC tournament. 

The match against North Carolina did not exactly go according to Duke’s plans. The Blue Devils were blown out by a score of 4-0, with Kimchi notably losing 7-5, 6-2. Unsurprisingly, however, Shvets was one of Duke’s few players who held their own against the Tar Heels, with her match against No. 75 Thea Rabman remaining unfinished tied at one set a piece. The Blue Devils will have one last chance to turn their season around in the NCAA tournament in May. 


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