CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – In the midst of his 16th season as Duke’s head coach, Jamie Ashworth became the Atlantic Coast Conference’s all-time wins leader, as the fifth-ranked Blue Devils rallied from a lost doubles point to fight off eighth-ranked Virginia 4-3 on Friday afternoon.
“It’s a great accomplishment for our program,” Ashworth said. “It says a lot about the girls that we’ve had. We’ve had some great teams and some great players over my fifteen years and it’s a tribute to what they’ve accomplished.”
The Cavaliers came strong out of the gate, grabbing the early momentum against the Blue Devils in sweeping all three doubles matches. In the No. 1 spot, Hana Tomljanovic and Erin Vierra teamed up for an 8-3 upset of Duke’s 19th-ranked tandem of freshman Beatrice Capra and sophomore Rachel Kahan. The loss was just the duo’s third this season. Li Xi and Caryssa Peretz followed up with an 8-6 triumph against freshman Annie Mulholland and sophomore Hanna Mar in the No. 3 spot to clinch the doubles point for Virginia. The Cavaliers completed the doubles sweep as Emily Fraser and Lindsey Hardenbergh picked up an 8-6 upset victory against the 31st-ranked duo comprised of junior Mary Clayton and freshman Ester Goldfeld in the No. 2 spot.
“I challenged them after the doubles [losses] and told them, ‘How good can you be? Push your limits and do something that you wouldn’t normally do to prove yourself,’ and they responded really well,” Ashworth said. “We had opportunities to win all six [singles] matches.”
Despite the disappointing results of the doubles matches, Duke responded with a resilient effort in singles play. In a matchup of top-15 players, Capra, ranked No. 2, picked up a dominating 6-0, 6-2 victory against the 15th-ranked Fraser at the No. 1 spot in the lineup, tying the overall match at 1-all.
Clayton, ranked No. 71, gave Duke a lead it would not relinquish with a 6-2, 6-3 win in the No. 5 spot against Vierra. Clayton leads the Blue Devils with 24 wins, and 13 in dual matches.
Ranked 102nd, Kahan battled the 90th-ranked Xi in the No. 3 spot. After dropping the first set 6-4, Kahan won the second set 6-0, to set up a pivotal third frame. Leading 2-0, Xi retired due to injury, and the Blue Devils increased their lead to 3-1.
In the No. 4 singles match, the 48th-ranked Mar clinched the Duke victory and sealed Ashworth’s record-setting win, outlasting Tomljanovic, 6-2, 7-5, for her 21st victory of the season. Goldfeld, the nation’s 117th ranked player, dropped a tough three-set match to the 42nd-ranked Hardenbergh, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4, in the No. 2 spot.
“Even though she lost, I thought one of the keys was Ester [Goldfeld] staying on the court after losing the first set, 6-0,” Ashworth said. “After losing doubles, we didn’t want to lose a quick singles match to give Virginia momentum. We played with a lot of intensity, and I thought we had to because they’re a good team.”
Ahead 4-2 in the overall match, freshman and 68th-ranked Monica Turewicz found herself in a back-and-forth clash in the No. 6 spot with Peretz. Peretz took a long first set, 7-6 (7), but Turewicz fought back to win the second set, 6-1. Peretz responded, however, and claimed the win with a 6-4 comeback in the third set.