ATHENS, Ga. — For the third time in its last five matches, Duke rallied back from a lost doubles point, this time defeating Georgia, 4-2 in the quarterfinals of the 2012 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships on Saturday evening. The victory ties the program’s second-longest winning streak at 18 in a row.
Playing in front of a crowd of 1,511 spectators, the afternoon began with doubles play, and the Bulldogs, feeding off the energy of the home crowd, grabbed a quick, 8-1 win on court one as the 46th-ranked duo of Nadja Gilchrist and Kate Fuller upset the Blue Devils’ 21st-ranked tandem comprised of Mary Clayton and Ester Goldfeld.
Despite the disappointing outcome in the No. 1 doubles match, Duke (29-2) battled it out on court two, as the 17th-ranked unit of Rachel Kahan and Beatrice Capra outlasted Chelsey Gullickson and Lauren Herring, 8-6. Capra and Kahan improved to 21-5 overall and 17-2 playing at the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, Monica Gorny and Hanna Mar could not pull away from Maho Kowase and Lilly Kimbell on court three, despite leading 4-3 early, and eventually fell to the Bulldog duo, 8-6 as Georgia (24-5) claimed the doubles point and a 1-0 lead in the overall match.
Singles play could not have been more interesting, as four of the six contests went into three sets. Goldfeld, ranked 110th, got things started when she tied the match at 1-1 with a convincing 6-2, 7-5 victory against Gilchrist in the No. 2 singles match. She improved to 25-9 overall on the season, and 17-4 in dual matches.
Georgia responded a little while later, however, as seventh-ranked Gullickson scored a 6-3, 6-2 upset against second-ranked Capra in the No. 1 spot. The loss snapped Capra’s streak of 16 consecutive victories which is the third-longest run by a freshman in program history.
The momentum shifted back in favor of the Blue Devils when Capra and 92nd-ranked Monica Turewicz fought off a tough opponent in Kimbell in three sets, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 in the No. 6 spot to tie up the overall match once again at two-all. The win was her 14th in a row, and improved her overall record to 31-3.
Duke finally broke through on court three when Mar, the nation’s 59th-ranked player, finished off a hard-fought three-set victory against No. 58 Kowase, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to put the Blue Devils ahead, 3-2. The win was Mar’s 30th of the season and moved her mark to 17-4 in dual matches.
It all came down to Kahan, ranked 85th, on court four, who was in arguably one of the most entertaining and emotion-filled matches of the evening against the 70th-ranked Herring. She native took the first set, 6-2 but Herring responded with a 6-3 triumph in the second set.
Trailing 5-3 in the third set and facing match point with Herring serving, Kahan countered to win the game, and eventually break Herring at five-all. The match moved into a decisive tie-break, and Kahan shouting, “Let’s go!” and “Come on!” at the top of her lungs after every point she won, eventually pulled out the 7-5 tie-break and 7-6 three-set victory to clinch the match and advance Duke to Monday’s semifinals.