Duke women's tennis falls to No. 16 Tennessee, ends season in second round of NCAA tournament

Emma Jackson hits a volley in the ACC tournament.
Emma Jackson hits a volley in the ACC tournament.

For the second year in a row, Duke women's tennis is bounced in the Round of 32. 

The Blue Devils let a bad start get the best of them and concluded their season with a 16-10 overall record after losing 4-0 in the second round of the NCAA tournament to No. 16 Tennessee. After a 4-0 win against East Tennessee State Saturday, Duke struggled in the opening games of the match before mounting an unsuccessful comeback attempt against the Lady Vols. 

“We have to rebuild as a team and do it all over again,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said Sunday evening. “That’s the beauty of college athletics, but also what stinks about college athletics.”

As the hosts of the region, Tennessee (20-7, 9-4) was playing on home territory and came into the match swinging comfortably, winning the first game on all three doubles courts. 

In doubles, graduate students Brianna Shvets and Iuliia Bryzgalova were able to make a slight comeback after Tennessee took a 3-1 lead. Trailing, Shvets and Bryzgalova broke the Lady Vols twice in the next three games, bringing the set on-serve at 4-3. Despite leading 40-15 in the next game, Duke dropped the key deuce point and eventually the match 6-3. 

The loss on court 2 solidified the doubles point for the Blue Devils. Despite leading 2-1, junior Emma Jackson and senior Karolina Berankova surrendered three straight games to Tennessee. The Volunteers clinched the doubles point shortly after, 6-3. 

“Just thought that we got off to really poor starts and that Tennessee took advantage of that. We put up a little bit of a fight through the middle, but we’d dug ourselves just too deep of a hole across the board,” Ashworth said. 

Singles continued mostly the same way as Duke fell behind early. Tennessee won the first set on five out of six of the courts. 

Court 3 demonstrated some grit as Bryzgalova came back from a 3-1 deficit in the second set, winning three straight games. She dropped the next game with her opponent winning the deuce point. This allowed Tennessee to win the second set 6-4 and the match 6-1, 6-4, putting it up 3-0. 

The match victory was clinched on court 5. After dropping the first set, Shvets led the second 4-1. Dropping a deuce point cut her lead to one game before Shvets injured her leg late, allowing the Lady Vols to clinch and ending Duke’s season.

The early jumps from Tennessee, “kind of deflated the energy a little,” according to Ashworth

Despite the 4-0 win over East Tennessee State in the first round, Ashworth wasn’t pleased with his team's performance on Saturday. 

“I don’t think we actually played very well yesterday. I told our team that we had to be a little more crisp today and a little more focused and that we can’t rely on talent,” Ashworth said. “Yesterday we were just more talented” 

The loss to the Volunteers marked the end of the Blue Devils season that they came into with a lot of questions. Only having seven players on the roster for this season left Duke with abnormal lineup concerns — but it persevered and bonded nonetheless.  

“They became a team, which was huge for us. Away from the court, I thought that they did what they needed to do to become the best team that they possibly could,” Ashworth said. “ As a coach, that’s all I can hope for.” 

Next season brings a whole new group of girls. Duke is losing three players who played a key role in the lineup and must adjust for the next season. 

“We have to rebuild as a team and do it all over again,” Ashworth said. “We have to figure out a way to push through the Round of 32 before next season as well.”


Share and discuss “Duke women's tennis falls to No. 16 Tennessee, ends season in second round of NCAA tournament” on social media.