ROME, Ga. – No. 5 Duke women’s tennis booked its ticket to the ACC Championship final, as the Blue Devils battled past 13th-ranked Miami in a physical, back-and forth contest to collect a thrilling, 4-3 victory Saturday afternoon in the semifinal of the ACC Women’s Tennis Championships at the Rome Tennis Center.
“We just grinded it out until the very end,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “We came out and played good doubles and I felt we had some good momentum – especially because when we played them in Miami a couple weeks ago, we lost the doubles point.”
The Blue Devils struck first when doubles play opened as their 27th-ranked duo of junior Chloe Beck and freshman Ellie Coleman bested Maya Tahan and Tatyana Nikolenko, 6-2, on court two. Miami answered back on the top court with No. 19 Eden Richardson and Daevenia Achong’s 6-3 triumph.
Duke clinched the doubles point shortly thereafter via graduate student Eliza Omirou and senior Margaryta Bilokin’s match in flight three. Omirou and Bilokin controlled their matchup from the jump, taking four of the first five games against Isabella Pfennig and Audrey Boch-Collins before going on to secure a 6-3 win for an early 1-0 lead.
The Blue Devils got off to a slow start when the action shifted to singles. Miami was able to capitalize and took the lead behind No. 80 Pfenning and No. 51 Richardson’s wins on court three (6-3, 6-2) and court one (6-1, 7-5). Duke’s battle-tested group never relented though, answering the bell with counters of its own.
Coleman and No. 14 senior Georgia Drummy put Duke back in front, 3-2, via victories in flights six and two. The freshman was the lone Blue Devil to win her first set and parlayed that momentum into a 6-4, 6-1 defeat of Nikolenko in the sixth singles slot, while Drummy showed her poise as she rallied from one set down to best No. 32 Achong, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 and swing momentum back into Duke’s favor.
“We just couldn’t build on that energy [from doubles], “said Ashworth.” We lost five first sets. I thought we just had to keep grinding and we were able to do that. We got that first win with Ellie in singles, which was a big one, and then Georgia came back against the girl that she lost to last time in Miami – getting that one [was big]. “
Miami didn’t go quietly, tying the match at three apiece following Audrey Boch-Collins’ 6-3, 7-5 win on court five to set up a winner-take-all match on court four.
No. 100 Kelly Chen and Maya Tahan were amid the third set in their matchup after splitting the first two sets – Tahan took the opener, 6-3, but Chen responded to collect a 6-4 decision in the second. Chen faced a two-game deficit in the tightly-contested third set, but she continued to fight and surged ahead, 6-5. Tahan took the last game, which set up a tiebreaker.
With the match and a trip to the title on the line, Chen delivered in the clutch for the Blue Devils once again. The senior battled passed her adversary to win the tiebreaker 8-6, securing the match for Duke.
“We’ve relied on Kelly so much in her career and she’s come through in those moments so many times,” Ashworth added. “It was great for her to have that moment again.”
Duke advances to the ACC Championship match and will play No. 7 and fourth-seeded Virginia on Sunday at 2 pm The match will be broadcast live on ACC Network Extra.
Singles (3,1,6,2,5,4 *)
1. # 51 Eden Richardson (UM) def. # 8 Chloe Beck (DU) 6-1, 7-5
2. # 14 Georgia Drummy (DU) def. # 32 Daevenia Achong (UM) 1-6, 6-3, 6-2
3. # 80 Isabella Pfennig (UM) def. # 124 Emma Jackson (DU) 6-3, 6-2
4. # 100 Kelly Chen (DU) def. Maya Tahan (UM) 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6)
5. Audrey Boch-Collins (UM) def. Margaryta Bilokin (DU) 6-3, 7-5
6. Ellie Coleman (DU) def. Tatyana Nikolenko (UM) 6-4, 6-1
1. # 19 Eden Richardson / Daevenia Achong (UM) def. # 31 Georgia Drummy/Karolina Berankova (DU) 6-3
2. # 27 Chloe Beck/Ellie Coleman (DU) def. Maya Tahan / Tatyana Nikolenko (UM) 6-2
3. Eliza Omirou/Margaryta Bilokin (DU) def. Isabella Pfennig / Audrey Boch-Collins (UM) 6-3
For more information on Duke women’s tennis, follow the Blue Devils on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching for “https://goduke.com/news/2022/4/23/DukeWTEN”.