ROME, Ga. – No. 5 Duke women’s tennis captured the program’s 18 conference title, and the first one since 2012, as the Blue Devils defeated No. 7 Virginia, 4-1, Sunday afternoon in the ACC Women’s Tennis Championship match at the Rome Tennis Center.
“It was a great opportunity just sitting there in front of us and we definitely wanted to do everything we could to take advantage of it,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth, who collected his ninth ACC title as head coach. “Regardless of the long match we had last night and the day before against Wake Forest, I thought we were as prepared as we possibly could’ve been to play this match. That’s attributed to the girls, their resiliency and what they’ve put into everything we’ve asked of them all year. “
Duke was the first on the board after taking two of three doubles matches. The teams split the last two doubles courts, with Virginia’s No. 59 Natasha Subhash and Sofia Munera picking up a 6-1 victory in flight two, while the Blue Devils’ pairing of graduate student Eliza Omirou and senior Margaryta Bilokin scored a 6-2 decision in flight three.
The doubles point came down to the top court where Duke’s 31st-ranked duo of Karolina Berankova and Georgia Drummy were taking on No. 8 Emma Navarro and Hibah Shaikh. The matchup was a back-and-forth affair that featured several lead changes and momentum shifts. Neither side was able to gain much of an edge on the opposition, and the match headed to a tiebreaker after recording a 6-6 split through the first 12 games.
In the tiebreaker, Berankova and Drummy jumped out to a 3-0 advantage before Navarro and Shaikh answered with the next three to knot the score once again. The squads traded the ensuing two points, but that would be the last of that – the Blue Devil tandem registered the next three points, taking the tiebreaker (7-4) and the match to give Duke a 1-0 lead.
“Getting the doubles point was massive,” said Ashworth. “We did get that one in [flight] one, where we had lost to them, 6-0, last time we played them. Karolina and Georgia played big in the big moments there and that gave us a lift. “
No. 14 Drummy put Duke ahead 2-0 after the senior notched a 6-2, 6-3 win in flight two over 42nd-ranked Subhash. The Cavaliers immediately cut the deficit back to one, 2-1, as No. 1 Emma Navarro wrapped up a 6-4, 6-2 win on court one versus Beck.
Coleman pushed the Blue Devils’ advantage back to two behind a huge win on court six over Sara Ziodato. The freshman grabbed the opening set 6-4, then battled past Ziodato in a hard-fought, 7-6 (2) second set tiebreaker to secure the win and give Duke a 3-1 ledger.
The clinching point came from court three where a battle of the freshmen was taking place. No. 124 Emma Jackson was locked into a matchup with No. 67 Elaine Chervinsky, with set three about to commence, after the conference foes split the first two via 6-3 decisions. Although Chervinsky held a 5-4 lead late in a back-and-forth third set, Jackson never relented. The La Grange Park, Ill., Native fought her way back to force a tiebreaker, where she delivered the final blow to the Cavaliers. With the momentum completely in her favor di lei, Jackson jumped out to a 6-0 advantage before finishing her opponent off, 7-3, to deliver the Blue Devils the ACC Championship.
“Virginia came out and played some really good singles at the start,” Ashworth said. “But once we got our feet wet, we just hung in there. Georgia got that match to turn there and did a good job of getting a quick win. Ellie Coleman, again, another quick win for us. Then, at the time, Emma lost the first set and was down in the third but did a great job of grinding back – she had a bit of recall. Last time she was in that moment was against Virginia, where the match was kind of riding on her. She did a great job of taking advantage of the first opportunity we had, so we didn’t have to fall back on Marge and Kelly who were still battling at the end. Overall, just a great weekend obviously for everyone in our program. “
When the match was called, No. 100 senior Kelly Chen trailed Munera (5-7, 6-4, 4-5) on court four and Bilokin was tied with Shaikh (7-5, 4-6, 3-3) on court five.
After earning the ACC’s automatic bid, the Blue Devils turn their attention to the NCAA Team Championships, beginning with the NCAA Women’s Tennis Selection Show slated for May 2 at 6:30 pm, on NCAA.com.
Singles (2,1,6,3 *)
1. # 1 Emma Navarro (VA) def. # 8 Chloe Beck (DU) 6-4, 6-2
2. # 14 Georgia Drummy (DU) def. # 42 Natasha Subhash (VA) 6-3, 6-2
3. # 124 Emma Jackson (DU) def. # 67 Elaine Chervinsky (VA) 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3)
4. # 100 Kelly Chen (DU) vs. Sofia Munera (VA) 5-7, 6-4, 4-5, unfinished
5. Margaryta Bilokin (DU) vs. Hibah Shaikh (VA) 7-5, 4-6, 3-3, unfinished
6. Ellie Coleman (DU) def. Sara Ziodato (VA) 6-4, 7-6
1. # 31 Georgia Drummy/Karolina Berankova (DU) def. # 8 Emma Navarro / Hibah Shaikh (VA) 7-6 (7-4)
2. # 59 Natasha Subhash / Sofia Munera (VA) def. # 27 Chloe Beck/Ellie Coleman (DU) 6-1
3. Eliza Omirou/Margaryta Bilokin (DU) def. Elaine Chervinsky / Amber O’Dell (VA) 6-2
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