SPORTS  |  TENNIS

Duke tennis postseason preview

Redshirt senior Garrett Johns times a shot to perfection
Redshirt senior Garrett Johns times a shot to perfection

As both the Duke women and men’s tennis teams prepare for the NCAA Tournament, the Blue Zone previews the postseason encounters for both Blue Devil squads, with additional details on each of the teams’ prospective opponents:

Women’s tennis

The Blue Devils are headed to Knoxville, Tenn., to compete in the NCAA Tournament starting on May 4th. After receiving its 34th bid to the tournament, Duke will face No. 63 East Tennessee State. The other match in the region will be between No. 16 Tennessee and Murray State. 

After finishing the regular season 15-9, Duke exited in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament, falling to reigning national champions North Carolina 4-0. The Blue Devils boast eight ranked wins this season, including victories over No. 13 UCLA and No. 14 NC State. The UCLA win was particularly sweet after the Bruins spoiled Duke’s NCAA Tournament run last season with a nail-biting win in Durham.

Duke’s lineup has gotten stronger throughout the season as junior Emma Jackson and freshman Shavit Kimchi have adapted to their roles on the team. Jackson, who plays No. 1 singles, is ranked No. 89 nationally and has excelled with Kimchi as her doubles partner during the last few weeks of the season. Kimchi, ranked No. 64, has a 13-8 singles record in her rookie season and has won three of her last four matches. 

East Tennessee State

This will be East Tennessee State’s second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their seventh in team history. After clinching the SoCon’s automatic bid on the back of three straight wins, the Buccaneers don’t have to travel far to face Duke in the first round. 

East Tennessee has dominated the SoCon conference all year and has been nationally ranked for four consecutive weeks this season, reaching as high as No. 60. The team will be looking for its first ever victory in the NCAA tournament this weekend. 

Murray State 

On the other side of this region’s bracket is Murray State, making its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2015. The Racers finished their season in the Missouri Valley Conference undefeated and 17-5 overall, recently clinching the conference championship with a 4-1 win over Illinois State. 

Tennessee 

The Tennessee Volunteers host this region's matches as its highest-ranked team and the No. 16 seed nationally. This is the second year in a row that Tennessee has received a hosting position in the tournament and the ninth time in program history. 

Tennessee has stars up and down its lineup, with Sofia Cabezas and Elza Tomase notably ranked No. 9 nationally in doubles. Cabezas is also ranked No. 13 in singles from the No. 1 spot.   

Men’s tennis

After an up-and-down start to the season, Duke is playing its best tennis at the right time of the year. The Blue Devils will host a regional for the second straight year, and are the No. 13 overall seed. 

Duke finished its regular season winning six out of seven matches, but fell in the ACC tournament semifinals to top-seeded Virginia. 

Redshirt senior Garrett Johns is the leader of this team, anchoring onto the No. 1 singles spot by playing brilliant tennis. Perhaps more impressive is his doubles performances of late, as Johns and partner Pedro Rodenas are the top-ranked tandem in the entire country. They are entering the postseason on fire, having won eight-straight matches. 

In the regional, the Blue Devils first face UNC Asheville, and if they emerge victorious, will take on the winner of Alabama and Charlotte. 

Alabama

Alabama is the No. 2-seed in the region, earning its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2021. The Crimson Tide are currently the 21st-ranked team in the nation after getting through a gauntlet of an SEC schedule. 

Alabama fell to South Carolina in the SEC tournament, but has some impressive wins on their resume, including over Southern California, Kentucky and Texas A&M. 

Charlotte

This is a dangerous 49er team, tying their program record for wins (19) while playing great tennis throughout. Charlotte won the AAC tournament in exciting fashion, coming back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat Memphis in the final 4-3. Head coach Kyle Bailey earned conference Coach of the Year honors in the process, and hopes to lead his team to a regional upset. Charlotte will face Alabama at 1 p.m. Friday. 

UNC Asheville

UNC Asheville is the No. 4-seed in the region and is the automatic qualifier from the Big South Conference. The Bulldogs are an experienced bunch who won their first conference tournament since 1986. They will face Duke at 4 p.m. following the conclusion of the Alabama-Charlotte match.  

This is shaping up to be a good regional, with three in-state teams and a quality Alabama squad. The Blue Devils have all the pieces to make another deep tournament run with experienced veterans and a deep roster. Duke is playing incredible doubles, and if its singles can be consistent across the board, head coach Ramsey Smith’s team has a good shot to advance. 


Ranjan Jindal profile
Ranjan Jindal | Sports Editor

Ranjan Jindal is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 120th volume.

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