No. 20 Duke women's tennis loses heartbreaker to No. 4 Virginia as Emma Jackson loses in 3 sets

Sophomore Emma Jackson returns a backhand against Boston College.
Sophomore Emma Jackson returns a backhand against Boston College.

The Blue Devils had it within grasp. 

On a senior day that was marked by multiple comebacks, No. 20 Duke fell to No. 4 Virginia in a 4-3 nailbiter Sunday. After a 6-1 defeat of Virginia Tech Friday, the Blue Devils almost toppled a strong ACC opponent but fell just short. 

“We can play with anybody and we have to realize that when we’re in those moments there’s nothing to be afraid of,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “We’re not defending anything. We should be in full attack mode the entire time.”

The beginning of the match did not look great as Virginia jumped out to 1-0 lead by taking the doubles point, despite the Blue Devils (13-7, 6-5 in the ACC) establishing leads in their matches. Freshman Shavit Kimchi and sophomore Katie Codd had a 2-0 lead on court 1 against the Cavaliers’ 12th-ranked duo, before they fought back, tying it at 3-3 and eventually taking the set 6-4. 

“I think our doubles has gotten better in the last 10 days,” Ashworth said. “Every time we play and every time we practice is a chance to keep getting better. I’m glad to see we’re doing that.” 

At one point, all three doubles matches were tied 3-3, even though Duke eventually surrendered the point. 

Singles also started well for the Blue Devils as they won the first set on four out of six courts with senior Iuliia Bryzgalova providing the only two-set victory for Duke of the day with her 6-1, 6-4 win.  

After Brianna Shvets and Kimchi suffered defeats — putting Virginia (18-3, 10-1) only one win away from clinching – honored senior Karolina Berankova provided a key win for Duke. Carrying her first set 6-3, the second set went to a tiebreaker that Berankova battled through to give herself a 6-3, 7-6 (10-8) victory. 

With the overall match score now 3-2, the match came down to courts 1 and 4 as both junior Emma Jackson and Codd’s matches went to third sets – even though they had both carried their first set 6-1. 

Codd dropped her second set 3-6, but was able to force the third set to a tiebreaker that she then carried to a victory, despite trailing 1-3. But Codd’s victory came too late as Jackson had already fallen on court 1, 6-1, 5-7, 4-6. 

“It’s cliche but we’re not very big on moral victories,” Ashworth said. “We’re proud of the effort and proud of the emotional effort that they put in. But we have to do a better job when we work so hard to put ourselves in a position to win.”

Not only was the win painfully within reach for Duke, but it was also on senior day, which brought up extra emotions when it came to the results. 

“They’ve all brought so many different things to our program in such a positive way. Anytime you have a day like this, it’s sad to see, but we also have a lot to look forward to for the rest of this year as well,” Ashworth said.  

The Blue Devils were also playing without a key part of their lineup, sophomore Ellie Coleman. 

“We’re trying everything we can to have her play,” said Ashworth regarding her injury. 

Duke’s home season might be over but its season overall is far from complete. Heading back out on the road this weekend, it will complete ACC play with matches against Notre Dame and Louisville before heading into the ACC and NCAA tournaments later this month. 


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