COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Propelled by a strong performance in doubles and a quick start in singles that saw five of six Duke women win their opening sets, the No. 3 Blue Devils cruised to a 4-0 win over No. 8 California en route to the 2009 national title in women’s tennis. The win marked the University’s first ever national title and 10th overall team national title.
“[This team] is unbelievably resilient,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “I’m so proud of them… We grinded out most of the year with six players and you can’t ask for anything more than what they gave every single day at practice and matches. To come through like they did today and beat a great Cal team, it’s just unbelievable.”
Duke’s performance in the doubles phase of the competition set an early tone, with the N0. 3 pair of sophomore Reka Zsilinszka and sophomore Ellah Nze notching a 8-4 win before the No. 2 duo of freshman Mallory Cecil and senior Jessi Robinson pulled away with an 8-5 match victory, giving Duke the all-important doubles point going into the singles phase of the competition.
The Blue Devils came out of the gates strong in singles, with Zsilinszka, Cecil, Robinson, junior Amanda Granson and senior Melissa Mang all winning their opening sets. Working quickly in the second set on Court 3, Zsilinszka put away Cal’s Mari Andersson 6-1, 6-2 to raise the Blue Devils point total to two. Meanwhile, Robinson fought back from an early 4-1 second set deficit on Court 6, winning five straight games to earn Duke a third overall point with a 6-2, 6-4 match victory.
Needing only one more team point to secure a national title, senior Melissa Mang roped in a forehand winner on Court 5 to seal a 6-1, 6-3 win and the NCAA crown.
Check back with the Sports Blog in the coming days for more coverage of Duke’s NCAA title-winning performance.