The sixth-ranked Blue Devils posted a dominant spring season opener on Friday afternoon, defeating Furman 7-0. Head coach Jamie Ashworth led Duke as the program moved to 17-0 all-time against the Paladins.
The Blue Devils rallied to sweep the Paladins at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center in Durham, with dominant singles performances from senior Chloe Beck and sophomore Emma Jackson and several gut-wrenching victories leading the way.
“Today was a great win,” said student Cameron Morra after the match, “but it’s just the first and we don’t want to peak today. So it’s all about what we can do.”
Beck finished her fall season with a consolation championship victory over Anika Yarlagadda of North Carolina at the ITA National Fall Championships. She begins the spring season as the No. 3 singles player in the country and lived up to that position Friday on Court One, defeating sophomore Ellie Schulson in straight sets 6-1, 6-2.
In the most decisive match of the afternoon, Jackson contributed to a convincing victory with a victory of her own against sophomore Marissa Pennings. Jackson, who is ranked No. 22, dropped just one game, decisively defeating her opponent 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3 singles.
The Blue Devils showed strength in all aspects, picking up their 12th straight home win. At No. 3 doubles, Jackson and graduate student Iuliia Bryzgalova battled back from an early 0-40 deficit. The duo came together, defeating Pennings and Schulson 6-1 to record their first ever win as a partnership. What’s more, after coming back from a 1-2 deficit at No. 2 doubles, sophomore Ellie Coleman and junior Karolina Berankova won five straight games for a 6-2 win to secure the doubles point for Duke.
Beck and Morra also won together at No. 1 doubles, beating Furman’s sophomore pair of Jess Dawson and Sara Snyder 6-3.
The Blue Devils had decisive wins, but they also excelled in tight moments and extended their lead. Bryzgalova, a Penn transfer, and sophomore graduate student Brianna Shvets, a Princeton transfer, both battled through 3-3 ties in the second set to win their singles matches. After taking the first set on court six, Shvets held her serve to make the second set 3-3 before winning 6-3, 6-4 to seal Duke’s overall victory.
“During the close moments, listening to the girls cheering is amazing,” Morra said. “The energy was really great today, especially for our first match. I’m really excited to keep getting better and see what happens.”
After winning four straight games to take the first set 6-1, Morra dropped the second set 6-4, sending the No. 2 singles match into a third-set tiebreaker. Morra outshot Dawson 10-4 for the win, showing determination in a close match.
A last-minute change removed freshman Georgia Dummy from the Blue Devils’ singles lineup on Friday. Ashworth, who is entering his 27th season, attributed the change to getting everyone ready for the upcoming season.
“Our focus is really preparing for that opportunity, and it started with this game today and getting our feet wet a little bit,” Ashworth said. “We had three people on the pitch who had never played a match for us before, and there were a few nerves, but they had to come out.”
Duke will hope to continue its strong start at the ITA Kickoff Weekend on January 28-29. Before that, the Blue Devils face Charleston Southern and Charlotte in a doubleheader Sunday at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., respectively, looking to keep the momentum going before hosting that crucial weekend later this month.
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