April 21, 2009

Courtesy of Duke Athletics

DURHAM, N.C. — Just two days removed from capturing the 2009 ACC Women’s Tennis Championship, Duke climbed another spot to No. 2 in the most recent ITA National poll. The Blue Devils were ranked third prior to their championship victory over No. 6 Miami over the weekend.

The No. 2 ranking is the highest for the Blue Devils this season and is the best since the team earned the No. 1 national ranking in 2003. It is the third straight week they have been among the top five teams. The lone team in front of Duke is Northwestern. The Wildcats are 22-1 overall with their only loss coming at the hands of the Blue Devils in February.

Duke recently captured its 16th ACC Tournament title after beating Miami 4-3 in the title tilt. It is the first title for the Blue Devils since 2003 and the sixth for head coach Jamie Ashworth.

Individually a selection of Blue Devil players moved up in the rankings. Rookie Mallory Cecil made the biggest move, climbing into the top 10 for the first time in her career. Ranked ninth overall, Cecil has won 11 straight matches and upset top fourth-ranked Julia Cohen of Miami in the ACC Championship match. The ACC Rookie of the Year and ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player, Cecil is 22-3 overall as a rookie and 11-3 against nationally-ranked foes.

Also moving up after turning in the clinching win over the Hurricanes is sophomore Reka Zsilinszka. The Fayetteville, N.C. native moved up to 29th after beating Bianca Eichkorn in three sets. She is a team-best 34-7 overall and has won 11 straight matches.

Classmate Ellah Nze is in the 37th spot as Duke’s No. 2 singles player. Sporting a 27-11 overall record, she is 14-6 in the No. 2 spot. Junior Amanda Granson comes in at No. 82 with a 25-15 overall record, while Melissa Mang is 124th after winning her contest in the championship match. Mang owns a career-best 31 victories this season and is 22-2 at No. 5 singles.

Mang and Granson continued their upward movement to No. 15 in the doubles poll. The tandem most recently defeated the 13th-ranked pair from Miami and are 21-13 overall this season. Playing in the No. 1 spot all season, they are 15-8 in dual matches and have won the past three matches.

Cecil and Jessi Robinson pushed their win streak to eight matches over the weekend to move up 21 spots to No. 52 in the poll. Since joining forces in January, the duo is 18-6 overall.

The Blue Devils await word on their next opponent in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The selections will be announced on April 28 at 5:20 p.m., on ESPNEWS.