CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Seventh-seeded Duke registered a remarkable come-from-behind 4-3 victory against fourth-seeded UCLA (8-1) on Monday at the Boar’s Head Sports Club.
“We just competed and tried to scrap and find a way to get back into all of these matches,” Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “An hour and a half into that match, it didn’t look great for us at all. After the doubles, we told the girls that you just trust yourself and believe in yourself. No matter what it takes, how long we have to stay out there, let’s try and do it. We were able to do it. Somehow we found a way to battle back in every second set and make it competitive. It easily could have been 4-0.”
The Blue Devils (8-0) claimed their second ITA Indoors title and the first since the 2003 campaign.
“We’ve been close a bunch and this is the second time we’ve won it,” Ashworth said. “This sets the tone for us moving on. We’ll hopefully just keep getting better. We fought so hard last year and I think that carried over to this year’s group and helped us in a match like today. Until we lose the last point of the last match, we’re going to compete.”
Duke opened the match down 3-0 but netted two third-set tiebreaking wins to clinch the victory versus the Bruins. For the second time in three matches, it came down to senior Hanna Mar on court No. 3 and she delivered with a 7-3 tiebreaker win in the second set and a 10-3 tiebreaker victory in the third set after dropping the first set, 6-3.
“It was amazing,” said Mar on the win. “I knew that everybody was right there with me, so I never felt alone out there. That was an amazing feeling.”
UCLA came out on fire in the match cruising to take the doubles point as top-ranked Robin Anderson and Jennifer Brady downed Duke’s Beatrice Capra and Mar 6-2 on court No. 1 and Catherine Harrison and Kyle McPhillips of UCLA took down Ester Goldfeld and Alyssa Smith 6-1 on court No. 2.
Duke’s tandem of Annie Mulholland and Chalena Scholl were tied, 4-4, on court three with Courtney Dolehide and Chanelle Van Nguyen of UCLA when the point was clinched. It marked the first time this season the Blue Devils lost the doubles point.
UCLA continued with the momentum in singles, winning the first set on five of the first six courts and it appeared like the Bruins were going to cruise to a 4-0 win. The Blue Devils would not back down and showed incredible heart as Duke won four second sets to extend the match to tiebreakers.
All this happened after Duke fell down 3-0 as a team with UCLA feeding off the early singles wins on court Nos. 5 and 6. Kaitlin Ray of UCLA snapped a nine-match winning streak by Marianne Jodoin on court No. 6, taking a 6-1, 6-1 victory. Harrison collected a 6-3, 6-4 win against senior Rachel Kahan as well to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead.
The Blue Devils were able to get on the board as Smith came back from falling in the first set 6-3 to win the second 6-1. In the tiebreaker, Smith got down 4-2 before going ahead 8-6 and closing out the point on court No. 4 with a 10-8 win. Smith improved to 13-6 overall on the season.
“She really changed what she was doing after the first set,” Ashworth said. “She got caught up in the moment in the first set and played way too quick for her. We talked a lot about controlling the tempo and slowing down. Alyssa slowed down, took her time and really focused on the tempo of the match.”
Collecting Duke’s only straight-set win of the day was Goldfeld, who knocked off ninth-ranked Van Nguyen of UCLA 6-4, 7-5 on court No. 2. Goldfeld never trailed in the match as she moved to 15-6 on the year in singles.
Court No. 1 featured two of the top three ranked singles players in the nation with top-ranked Anderson of UCLA and third-ranked Capra of Duke, which was a rematch of the October match in which Anderson knocked off Capra 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 at the Riviera All-America Championship.
Anderson opened the match in impressive fashion taking the first set 6-1 but Capra battled back in the second set to win 6-3. Capra got off to a 3-1 lead early in the tiebreaker but Anderson fought back to win three unansered points to take a 4-3 advantage. Capra made a run of her own and never trailed the rest of the way winning 10-7.
In four matches during the weekend, Capra knocked off top-ranked Anderson of UCLA and second-ranked Jamie Loeb of North Carolina to improve to 19-3 overall.
“They are really good wins but my goal for the week was just to improve,” Capra said. “I haven’t really played that much and I haven’t been able to finish a match yet. Just going in I just wanted to get better every single match and I’m really happy with myself the way I did here. Especially my team. I see everybody fighting and they keep motivating me. My coaches told us just to stay in the present and you will have to want to take it. In the end I really wanted to do well for my team.”
The 49th-ranked Mar worked her magic again on court No. 3, after falling in the first set 6-3. Mar jumped out to a 3-2 lead in the second set against 24th-ranked Brady, but the Bruin rookie came back to take a 5-4 lead. Brady was serving for the match with a 5-4 lead, but Mar broke and ended up winning in a tiebreaker 7-6 (7-3).
In the final tiebreaker of the day to decide the winner, Mar continued with the momentum of winning the second set and cruised to a 10-3 win.
“I hope that we come away with a surge of belief in what the team can do together and I’m really happy and proud of what we accomplished this week,” Mar said. “It was a team accomplishment, you know, everybody together.”