(5) Mallory Cecil (Duke) def. Laura Vallverdu (Miami), 7-5, 6-4
Mallory Cecil is the second Duke player in women’s tennis history to capture the individual title, joining Vanessa Webb who won the title as a senior in 1998…Cecil is the seventh freshman in the history of the tournament to win the singles title, and she is the fifth player from the ACC to win an NCAA individual crown…Cecil is the 14th player to win both the NCAA team championship and an NCAA individual title and the first since 2004…Cecil becomes the first player from an ACC school to win both an NCAA team title and the NCAA singles title in the same year…This is the eighth time players from the same conference faced off in the singles final…Vallverdu, who is unseeded, knocked off the No. 4 seed, the No. 8 seed and two 9-16 seeds en route to the final match...This is the second consecutive year an unseeded player has reached the finals (Baylor’s Zuzanna Zemenova advanced to the finals in 2008)...Vallverdu, a junior, becomes the second player in Miami women’s tennis history to reach the finals…Audra Cohen won the title for the Hurricanes in 2007.
(5) Mallory Cecil (Duke):
“I told Jamie (Ashworth, Duke head coach) just outside that I feel like I should have another match tomorrow. It feels amazing. Just like with the team, words can’t describe how much fight and heart went into this for me, and for me to be out here representing my team and representing Duke, I couldn’t ask for more.”
“I kept thinking about yesterday when (Vallverdu) was 5-2 with (Georgia’s Chelsey Gullickson) and came back and ended up winning that set. I knew she was going to keep going and not just roll over. Once I got up 5-1, I played a couple of loose points. I wasn’t swinging really and I stopped moving my feet. I definitely tightened up. In that last game, the sun was really in my eyes so I was just trying to get that serve in, keep going for my shots, just not even think about the score in the games at this point and just try and finish it out. I had a lot more tennis to go.
“Towards that end in that 5-3 game, I really felt like it just kept going back and forth. We were both taking a lot of time to get those points. You could tell we were starting to feel it out there. I think that was another reason that I fought so hard to get that set over with because I knew that third set was going to be absolutely grueling for the both of us.
“I was definitely feeling that heat. With as much tennis as I’ve played and not having a day off, I’m definitely - my body feels good. I don’t have any aches or pains or anything, but I was just fatiguing in the middle of the points. My legs would get tired quickly. I think we were both feeling it. She had some long matches. I had a lot of days of tennis. I think it was just fighting out there today.
(On Vallverdu’s pace) “When she played Chelsey out there, Chelsey was really flat. I definitely feel like I have more spin than she (Vallverdu) does. I like to hit some angles, too, just like she does, but today, Jamie kept telling me to move my feet and stay inside that baseline. She likes to stay right up on that baseline, so by me staying up there with her and just pushing in with her, trying to push her back, I thought that was really key. Again, with my serves, in a couple games I’d get a good amount of free points with that.”
(On her future) “Jamie and I have talked about it a little bit, and we’re going to try and see how the summer goes. I’ve set everything up as if I’m coming back next year. I’ve got my classes, got my roommate, got everything. Everything is set in place for me to come back. I’m going to play and see how I do. I’ll definitely set a goal that I want to achieve by the end of this summer, and we’ll go from there. “Plus, if I go back in the fall, I can play a lot of pros. I am really enjoying college and college tennis. It’s a lot of fun and a great atmosphere, so why not look at another year?”
Duke Head Coach Jamie Ashworth
“I don’t want to leave here. I told (Texas A&M Women’s Head Coach Bobby Kleinecke) that I wanted to cut a piece of the net off and take it with us, and he asked us if we could please not cut the net up.”
“For Mallory through this week and the team before, I don’t think we could have asked for a better two weeks. It has been so much fun. I can’t believe it’s over. It was so much fun with the group of girls that we had and just seeing the ride that (Mallory) was on. I’ll go home and kind of reflect a little bit and take some time, and hopefully she can do the same and enjoy everything that she’s accomplished. It’s been an unbelievable freshman year for her and an unbelievable year for the whole group. The first people that I got text messages from when I walked off the court were her teammates saying congratulations to me, but, it goes to her. It’s just been a great two weeks.”
(On Cecil’s future) “I think she’ll be smart with whatever decision she makes. I think that even if she had lost earlier this week, it was the same mindset for the summer and the fall. We talked about it three weeks ago and a little before that. I think that whatever decision she makes will be the right one. She will consult the right people. She’s got a great group of people around her – her parents, her family, the people she works with down in Florida. We’ll give her whatever we can. She’ll be smart and she’ll do the right thing, what’s best for her. The one thing she’s gotten out of here is that she’s never been on a team before. You can see the pure enjoyment she has of being part of a team and that her teammates have for her. I think that coming to this school has been really great for her. We’ll see what happens.”
Laura Vallverdu (Miami)
“I just tried to fight as hard as I could until the end. Whatever happened was going to happen. She won and congratulations to her.
“I don’t like to put a number on (my performance), but I would say that I know that I didn’t give my best and I know I didn’t play to my highest potential, but I am happy with the tournament. I am certainly not happy that I didn’t get to win it today, but stuff happens.”
“I knew she was going to come out with big balls. I wasn’t waiting for the hard angles that she was getting. She kept pulling and pulling cross, and I thought she was going to go line which is what I’ve seen from her. She wasn’t doing that, and I was just getting pulled out wide a lot and I didn’t know what to do with that ball. I just kept missing and I was struggling a lot with playing the important points. I would stay 30-love in games or 30-all. I was struggling a little bit with having my teeth into the match. I just didn’t.”
“I guess we are both tired. She has three more matches more than me just because she had the team battle, but we’re both tired and I guess the third set was going to be another battle.”
Miami Head Coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews
(On the season) “Laura has been a huge part of the program. She is a huge part of our success. Since she arrived at Miami, it has been really nice to see her really develop. Her freshman year under Audra (Cohen), I think that helped her a ton. Last year, she was the leader of the program. This year, I think that for her to come in and do what she did just shows how good she really is. We see this at practice. We know that she can play tennis like this, but to be able to come into this tournament at this venue – I think she’s really made a statement in terms of next year, looking forward to next year. If you know her personality, this is only going to make her work harder and want it even more. She’s having an exceptional season. I think coming in, she was on a 17-match winning streak. With the players she put down, starting with (Notre Dame’s Kelcy Tefft) and ending with (Duke’s Mallory Cecil) today, I don’t think anybody in the tournament had tougher matches in front of them. Exceptional tournament and I know she’ll be back next year, hopefully coming into this (interview) room first.”