Hanna Mar got Duke back in the game.
Duke Athletics

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Juniors Hanna Mar and Marianne Jodoin both dropped the first set in their respective singles matches, but rallied to lead Duke past Texas Tech 4-3 on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament. With the win, the Blue Devils advanced to the Round of 16 for the 21st time in the previous 25 tournaments, where they are slated to face top-seeded Florida in Urbana, Ill.

“It all started with our doubles play,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “Going into the match, we knew that doubles was definitely one of their stronger points and I think that we stole the doubles point. I could tell that Texas Tech was a little bit nervous and our girls took advantage and jumped on them right away. Singles was just a battle. For Hanna [Mar] and Marianne [Jodoin] to lose the first set, it kind of sums up our season. It shows how much heart we have and how much pride our girls have in what they are doing. It was great to see.”

The Blue Devils kicked off the match as the aggressor in doubles, claiming the doubles point for a consecutive match. In the top position, the duo of Mar and senior Mary Clayton fell behind 3-4 to 16th-ranked Samantha Adams and Kenna Kilgo early after dropping consecutive serves, but responded by winning the next three to take a 5-4 advantage. Despite being down 15-40 in the next game, Clayton unleashed a number of serves to push the game into deuce, where the Blue Devil tandem was able to extend the lead to 6-4. After breaking serve, Mar slammed an overhead volley that ended up in the third row of the stands and served out the rest of the game to claim the match 8-4.

On court two, Jodoin and sophomore Annie Mulholland were level at 2-2 with Nikki Sanders and Rashmi Teltumbde, but took the lead when the Blue Devils were able to break serve. After Mulholland held, Duke was again able to break serve, taking a commanding 6-3 lead. After trading games, Mulholland served out the match, capped off by an outstanding drop shot by Jodoin to clinch the doubles point for Duke.

As singles play began, the enthusiastic crowd helped Texas Tech open up early leads on three of the five courts, temporarily turning the momentum in favor of the Lady Raiders. After senior Nicole Lipp fell in straight-sets to Sanders 6-0, 6-1 on court five, Texas Tech held a 2-1 lead.

Mulholland traded games early with Kilgo on court three, but was able to capitalize on a number of errors to break serve and take the first set 6-2. In the second set, Mulholland and Kilgo found themselves level at 4-4, before Kilgo held serve to take a 5-4 advantage. Despite the setback, Mulholland rallied by winning consecutive games to close out the match 6-2, 7-5.

In the second position, Clayton cruised through the first set against Teltumbde 6-3, but was unable to carry that momentum into the second set, falling 2-6. In the third set, Clayton jumped out to a 2-0 lead after breaking serve, but dropped three consecutive games to give Teltumbde a 3-2 lead. Clayton responded by winning the next game, but in the end was unable to slow Teltumbde, eventually falling 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

With Texas Tech leading 3-2, the Blue Devils were forced to win both of the remaining matches to advance to the Round of 16. In the top position, 80th-ranked Adams came out strong against Mar, taking a 4-0 lead in the opening set. Despite a comeback from Mar to pull within one, Adams was able to close out the set 6-4. In the second, it was Mar who grabbed the early lead and cruised to take the set 6-3. In the third and final set, Mar dropped serve early to fall behind 1-3, but won five consecutive games to claim an emotional match 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Following Mar’s victory, all eyes turned to court four where Jodoin battled Elizabeth Ullathorne. Just two weeks ago, Jodoin was put in a similar position in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship, where she claimed the first set 7-5 against Kelly Williford of Virginia Tech, but dropped the next two sets to lose the match, ending Duke’s conference tournament. On Sunday, Jodoin used that match as motivation as she edged Ullathorne 6-7 (4-6), 6-2, 6-3 to clinch the match for Duke.

“I’m really excited,” Jodoin said. “Two weeks ago I was in the same situation at ACCs, and I am really, really proud of my team and of myself. You don’t get the chance to be in the final match very often and I got the chance to prove myself. As a tennis player, you want to be in that position so badly. Some people graduate never having that experience and I have had it twice in two weeks. After my match at the ACC championship, I just came into this final set with the attitude that I’m just going to do it. It got me really focused having that experience.”

In the match, Ullathorne outlasted Jodoin 7-6 in the opening set, but Jodoin responded by easily taking the second set 6-2. In the third, Jodoin and Ullathorne traded games before Jodoin was able to break serve to take a 3-2 lead. After successfully holding serve, Jodoin took a 5-2 lead. After Ullathorne took the next game, Jodoin fell behind 15-30 but rallied to push the game into deuce. Ullathorne fended off one match point, but eventually Jodoin hit an outstanding forehand that Ullathorne sent just long, clinching the match.

“It’s not a tennis thing with us,” Ashworth said. “I told our team that after ACC’s, it’s just the attitude. We need to walk onto the court knowing that we belong there and knowing that we’re just as good as anybody. We went through a phase there where we lost some matches and I think we lost some confidence. The two week break we had was great for us. We were able to kind of refocus and re-do what we need to do and get back to playing how we need to play. It’s a great group of girls. I told them the last couple of weeks that they deserve opportunities like this and they took advantage of the opportunity here.”