CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – There will be a new Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Team Indoors champion for 2014 as the 10th-ranked and seventh-seeded Duke women’s tennis team downed third-ranked and second-seeded North Carolina (5-2) on Saturday afternoon at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va.
The Blue Devils (6-0) advanced to the semifinals and will face sixth-seeded and eighth-ranked California on Sunday, Feb. 9 at 12:00 p.m.
“When you have three tiebreakers going on at once to end the match like that it’s tough either way,” said Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth. “We talked about having to step up in the court and not waiting for something to happen and take control. If we swing and we miss that’s fine as long as we are swinging. Anytime we play them here, NCAAs, a friendly match down the street whatever it is, it’s always a battle.”
In doubles play, Duke cruised to take a 1-0 advantage early, which gave North Carolina a loss in doubles for the first time in dual match action in 2014.
Duke’s tandem of Beatrice Capra and Hanna Mar dropped the first game before winning five straight on their way to taking a 5-2 advantage. Tenth-ranked Whitney Kay and Caroline Price of North Carolina responded by winning two games, but Duke ended up putting the Tar Heels away, 6-3, on court one.
On court three playing together for the second straight day, Marianne Jodoin and Annie Mulholland of Duke fell down, 2-0, to 42nd-ranked Ashley Dai and Laura Slater. The Blue Devils were able to battle back and took a 4-2 lead, after breaking the UNC tandem. Duke closed the doubles point by winning 6-3.
Duke’s duo of Ester Goldfeld and Alyssa Smith were leading 5-3 on court two against Jamie Loeb and Hayley Carter when the doubles point was clinched.
North Carolina came out in singles and grabbed the lead early on five of the first six courts.
The Tar Heels were able to even the match, 1-1, as fifth-ranked Carter knocked off Duke freshman Chalena Scholl, 6-2, 6-2, on court two. Scholl, who is out of Laguna Niguel, Calif., played in only her third career collegiate singles match and dropped to 2-1 overall.
Duke senior Rachel Kahan gave the Blue Devils the lead back quickly on court five as the Unionville, Conn., native defeated 125th-ranked Dai, 6-4, 6-2. Kahan found herself down, 3-1, early in the first set but came back to win five out of the next six games to take the first set. She never trailed in the second set on her way to improving to 4-0 on the season.
In the featured match of the day with the Blue Devils’ third-ranked Capra against second-ranked Loeb on court one, the Duke standout fell behind, 2-1, early but came back to claim the first set, 6-4. It marked the first set Loeb had dropped since Oct. 1. Capra, who is out of Ellicott City, Md., fell down again in the second set, 3-2, but once again battled back to give Duke a 3-1 advantage with a 6-4, 6-4 win. The victory improved Capra to 17-3 on the season in singles play.
“She played well and she didn’t let her loss yesterday affect her today,” said Ashworth. “That was a big thing when you have to come out the next day no matter what. She wasn’t terribly disappointed with how she played yesterday and there were some little things here and there. She never had had the chance to play Jamie [Loeb] before so I think she went out there focused from the first point. They are definitely two of the better players in the country.”
After winning a hard-fought match, 6-4, in the first set on court four, Duke’s Goldfeld got behind 4-0 in the second and ended up falling 6-3 to send the match to a tiebreaking third set. On court three and six, Duke’s Mar and Smith came back from dropping the first set to send their matches to tiebreakers as well.
With three matches facing tiebreakers to decide the match, Mar came through big for the Blue Devils. A product of Burr Ridge, Ill., Mar came out strong in the tiebreaker as she built a commanding lead and won the clinching point on a fierce forehand down the left side of the court to clinch the 4-2 win for the Blue Devils.
The win by Mar came right after Goldfeld dropped her tiebreaker, 10-6, to Price, which had cut the Blue Devil lead to 3-2.
“They are such a good team and they showed that today and they showed that last year,” commented Ashworth. “Our goal on the court was to go on the court and play free. We weren’t defending anything so we had nothing to lose. We were hoping they felt a little of that today - that they had something to lose.”
Smith, a freshman from Laguna Niguel, Calif., was leading 7-5 in the tiebreaker against Kate Vialle when Mar clinched the Duke win.
California posted a 4-3 win over third-seeded Georgia on Saturday. Other teams advancing to the semifinals were Northwestern and UCLA.
Duke University 4, North Carolina 2 Feb 08, 2014 at Charlottesville, Va. (Boar's Head Sports Club)
Singles competition 1. #3 Beatrice Capra (DU) def. #2 Jamie Loeb (NC) 6-4, 6-4 2. #5 Hayley Carter (NC) def. Chalena Scholl (DU) 6-2, 6-2 3. #49 Hanna Mar (DU) def. #88 Whitney Kay (NC) 2-6, 6-4, 10-5 4. Caroline Price (NC) def. #45 Ester Goldfeld (DU) 4-6, 6-3, 10-6 5. Rachel Kahan (DU) def. #125 Ashley Dai (NC) 6-4, 6-2 6. Kate Vialle (NC) vs. Alyssa Smith (DU) 6-3, 2-6, 6-7, unfinished