Just a couple weeks ago, the Blue Devils came up with a trip to winless Florida, losing two close matches to ACC rivals Miami and Florida State.
But ever since the team’s return to North Carolina, Duke has found its groove. This past weekend was no different. In both wins and losses, one thing that has been consistent with the team is the play of junior Chloe Beck, whose talent and work ethic has helped make her the ninth-ranked player in the country.
“Chloe has been so solid for us all year,” head coach Jamie Ashworth said of Beck. “And she’s just someone that we’ve leaned on for the last couple of years. She takes care of what she needs. She competes, she fights, she works hard every day, it doesn’t matter if it’s practice or a match. She’s committed to getting better. ”
On Friday evening, a large crowd of Duke faithful, the 10th-ranked Blue Devils shut down Georgia Tech to secure their third straight win. After winning the doubles point, seniors Margaryta Bilokin and Kelly Chen gave Duke (15-3, 10-2 in the ACC) an early 3-0 lead.
After Soon, freshman Ellie Coleman was able to fight off Rosie Garcia Gross, the match-winning point to the third set. Beck would go on to win her singles match after dropping the first set, giving Duke the final point it would need to take the 5-2 victory over the Yellow Jackets (12-8, 7-4).
To continue that momentum, Duke took down Clemson Sunday afternoon in decisive fashion. Beck and Coleman took their doubles match in a 6-3 win, followed soon by another 6-3 victory over senior Georgia drummy and sophomore Karolina Berankova to give the Blue Devils the doubles point and advantage against the Tigers (10-10, 2 -8).
Once the singles match, the Blue Devils never look back. After dropping a few games early, Beck stormed back against Clemson’s Cristina Mayorova to win the first set 6-4. As the intensity of the match escalated, so did Beck’s play, and she stomped through the second set without losing a single game.
“I brought a lot of energy,” Beck said. “And because I have a lot of energy, I was able to stay in the matches and then start striking the ball better at the end of both doubles and singles. Once I started getting more chances and bigger cuts at the ball, the ball started dropping in, and I was just a more aggressive player at the end of the match. ”
With straight-set victories from graduate student Eliza Omirou and freshman Emma Jackson, Duke took a 4-0 lead and ensured the Tigers won. After additional singles points, Bilokin and Coleman beat the Blue Devils in a dominating 6-1 final score.
With the regular season coming to a close, Duke has just one more hurdle in its sights before the postseason play: undefeated North Carolina. If there ever was a Blue Devils for the strength of the test, it is the star of them now in the form of a Friday matchup against top-ranked Tar Heels.
“That’s where we really look for a great opportunity,” Ashworth said of the match. “They’ve been ranked at the top of the rankings. And we get a shot at them before the postseason. ”
In the coming weeks, the Blue Devils will face off with their toughest opponents in the mean. They will be forced to elevate their play if they have the moment of importance. For Beck, however, the best results do not come from expectations and pressure to excel but simply enjoy the game.
“I don’t really have any expectations for myself, because that wants me to play freely,” Beck said. “I just want to keep the energy up and keep having fun with my teammates. So that’s the only expectation I have. And I think we can do some big things. ”
With Beck at the helm and a slew of talented players approaching her, The Blue Devils have no plans to slow down.
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