MADISON, WIS. – The No. 9 Duke women’s tennis team fought back from a pair of deficits to beat No. 4 Georgia in the ITA Indoor Team Championship quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon in Nielsen Tennis Center.
“This tournament is a lot about character, from match to match and in the matches themselves,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “We talk about trusting your teammates and having belief in your teammates and it was great to see the reaction after the match.”
Duke continues its undefeated start to the season, improving to 6-0. Georgia drops to 4-1. The Blue Devils snap a two-game losing streak against the Bulldogs.
For the second time this season, Duke dropped the doubles point. For just the first time in dual matches, Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin dropped a doubles match. The ITA’s second-ranked tandem fell to Georgia’s No. 18 tandem of Katarina Jokic and Mariana Gould 6-3. The Bulldogs clinched the point when Annette Goulak and Kennedy Shaffer beat Hannah Zhao and Meible Chi 6-2.
“We were too passive in doubles,” said Ashworth. “The opportunities were there but we didn’t hit the balls. We challenged ourselves going into singles. We knew we needed to play to win and if Georgia came up with the shots to beat us, then that’s fine.”
The Blue Devils took the lead after winning the first two singles matches. Hamlin beat Elena Christofi 6-2, 6-3 to tie the score. McCarthy quickly followed with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Kennedy Shaffer to give Duke a 2-1 lead.
Georgia battled back to put Duke on the brink. The Bulldogs tied the score when Mariana Gould beat Zhao 6-1, 7-5. When No. 8 Katarina Jokic beat Samantha Harris 7-6 (7-2), 6-1, Duke was just one point away from its first loss.
Chi extended the match when she beat No. 71 Morgan Coppoc 6-4, 7-5. Duke clinched the win when Kelly Chen beat No. 39 Marta Gonzalez in a second set tiebreaker, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1). Hamlin, McCarthy, Chi and Chen are now a combined 19-0 in dual matches.
“Our singles were great, we competed very well,” Ashworth said. “We played with a lot of confidence, played free. We had nothing to lose, so we just got out there and swung. Kelly played an unbelievable tiebreaker, she had three or four aces. She played so big in the moment. It was her first time in that situation, the deciding match, and she loved it which was great.”
Duke advances to the semifinals for the first time since winning the tournament in 2014. The Blue Devils will meet a familiar foe as they will battle North Carolina. The match will get underway at 1:00 p.m.
"There’s some familiarity between us and it shows how strong our conference is,” Ashworth added. “We know each other’s players so well so a lot of it comes down to execution and emotion. It’s a great time to be a part of ACC tennis. We could have three teams in the semifinals, with us and North Carolina and then potentially Georgia Tech. That would be a first for the conference and really shows the depth of the conference and it’s great to be a part of it.”