DURHAM, N.C.— The 10th-ranked Duke women’s tennis team played host to the 57th-ranked Columbia Lions Friday in the opening round of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Kickoff Weekend. The Blue Devils secured the 4-0 victory with solid singles play which followed a highly contested doubles point.
“[Columbia’s] doubles was really good,” Duke’s head women’s tennis coach Jamie Ashworth said. “We knew coming in that we had to get off to a good start in doubles.”
The Blue Devils had their work cut out for them in doubles as Columbia features two of the top 25 ranked doubles tandems in the nation. The Duke duo of Marianne Jodoin and Alyssa Smith got things started quickly on court No. 3 as the Blue Devils went ahead 4-0 and ended up cruising to a 6-1 victory over Tiana Takenaga and Ioana Alecsiu.
On court two, the 14th-ranked Duke tandem of Annie Mulholland and Ester Goldfeld faced Columbia’s 20th-ranked Crystal Leung and Tina Jiang. The Lions went ahead 1-0 and never trailed in a very tight match. After the two teams were knotted at 3-3, Columbia won the next two points to take a 5-3 advantage. Duke stormed back to even the match at 5-5, before the Lions took the next two points to close the win, 7-5.
The doubles point came down to court one with Columbia’s 24th-ranked Bianca Sanon and Kanika Vaidya against Duke’s Beatrice Capra and Hanna Mar. After Columbia took an early 1-0 lead, Duke came back to go ahead 3-1 before the Lions evened the ledger at 3-3. After splitting the next four points, the Blue Devil duo of Capra/Mar went ahead 6-5. Columbia tied the score at 6-6 and it went to a tiebreaker to decide the doubles point. Duke led 3-1 early before the Lions tied the ledger at 4-4, but the Blue Devils responded with three straight points and won 7-6 (7-4).
After securing the doubles point, the Blue Devils asserted themselves in singles action. Smith won the team’s first singles match, dominating Columbia’s Leung, 6-1, 6-1, on court No. 4.
Rachel Kahan followed in suit, winning over Columbia’s Ioana Alecsiu, 6-2, 6-1, on court No. 6 to give the Blue Devils a 3-0 advantage.
Jodoin concluded the contest with an exclamation point for Duke, not conceding a single game against Columbia’s Takenaga. The decisive 6-0, 6-0 victory on court No. 5 secured the fourth point needed for Duke to defeat visiting Columbia and advance the Blue Devils to the championship match scheduled for Saturday.
“It was a good first competitive match for us, which in the past, this first round of the tournament hasn’t been, so it’ll help us for tomorrow, whoever we play,” Ashworth said.
In the other singles matches, Duke won the first set in each contest. Capra, who is ranked No. 3 nationally, won 6-3 and was 2-2 when the match closed out against 101st-ranked Sanon. The 45th-ranked Goldfeld was 6-1, 4-4 versus 75th-ranked Vaidya, while 49th-ranked Mar was 6-2, 2-3 versus Jiang.
The Blue Devils are set to compete in the championship match of the ITA Kickoff Weekend in the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. The contest is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday against 42nd-ranked Kentucky, who downed Tulane, 4-1. Admission for the event is free. The consolation match will feature Tulane against Columbia on Sunday, Jan. 26 at 9:00 a.m.