Duke wins thrilling 4-3 final over UCLA to claim 2014 ITA Women's Team Indoor Championship
Duke wins second title, first since 2003
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (Feb. 10) - Duke won its second ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship with an exciting come-from-behind 4-3 win over UCLA on Monday at Boar's Head Sports Club.
Senior Hanna Mar came back from a set down in the final match of the contest with the team match level at 3-3 to beat UCLA's Jennifer Brady at third singles, clinching the title. UCLA led 3-0 before the Blue Devils rallied from a set down in three singles matches for a 4-3 victory over the Bruins.
Duke, 2014 ITA Women's Team Indoor Championship winners
Entering championship day, both Duke and UCLA had won the doubles point in all three matches. UCLA held to start on each court. At second doubles, Bruins Catherine Harrison and Kyle McPhillips broke for 2-0, but then fell behind 0-40 in their next service game. After saving all three break points, the Bruin duo was still broken for 2-1.
McPhillips and Harrison won 10 straight points to gain control of the match. Savvy work at the net was the key for the Bruins, who won 6-1. At first doubles, Robin Anderson and Jennifer Brady raced out to a 4-1 lead against Beatrice Capra and Hanna Mar. Capra held serve for 4-2, then the Blue Devil pair had a break point on Anderson's serve, but UCLA saved it and was able to hold for 5-2.
The first point of the next game was the best of the match, as all four players were at net trading volleys. Duke triumphed in that point, but UCLA won four of the next five to clinch the doubles point with a 6-2 victory.
Beatrice Capra won at No. 1 singles to level the match at 3-3
With the doubles point in hand, UCLA won the first set in five of the six singles matches. Junior Kaitlin Ray put the Bruins up 2-0 with a commanding 6-1, 6-1 win at sixth singles over Marianne Jodoin, and sophomore Catherine Harrison also won in straight sets at fifth singles over Rachel Kahan 6-3, 6-4 to give UCLA a 3-0 lead.
But a battle in fourth singles began the comeback for Duke. Alyssa Smith recovered from losing the first set to get Duke on the board with a win over No. 36 Kyle McPhillips. The Bruin took a 4-2 lead in the match tiebreak, but Smith won five straight points to lead 7-4, and she hung on for a 3-6, 6-1, 10-8 win.
With the team match score now 3-1 in favor of UCLA, No. 45 Ester Goldfeld closed out her match against No. 9 Chanelle Van Nguyen, 6-4, 7-5. The Blue Devil junior served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but Van Nguyen broke back to 5-5 to keep hopes alive for the clinch for UCLA. But Goldfeld broke straight back and served out the match on her second attempt to close in on UCLA's lead.
Two matches were left to determine the champion, and the first singles showdown between No. 1 Robin Anderson of UCLA and No. 3 Beatrice Capra was a tight battle. The Bruin, who was 18-2 coming into the match, surged to a 5-0 lead in the first set thanks to her aggressive play. Anderson won the first set 6-1 and both held serve to start the third. On serve at 1-2, Anderson got down 0-40 but recovered to deuce only to face more break points as Capra battled back. Finally on her sixth game point, Capra broke for a 3-1 lead.
The rallies got longer and longer in the ensuing games and Anderson won an intense 26-stroke rally to get to triple break point. She then hit a great passing shot to get back on serve at 2-3. But Capra was well in the match now, and though it took her six break points, she was able to break again for a 4-2 lead. From then, Capra hung on the take the set 6-3, handing Anderson her first lost set of the tournament and the match headed to a tiebreak.
Capra grabbed an early 3-1 lead in the tiebreak, but Anderson won three straight points to keep hopes alive at 4-3. The Blue Devil continued to win the long rallies and she won three straight points to lead 6-4. Capra held on to that lead to defeat Anderson 1-6, 6-3, 10-7 and level the team match at 3-3.
The Duke women's team watching teammate Mar versus Brady
Capra said she was happy to get the win for her team and recover from losing the first set. "Robin was playing really well and I was flat. I knew that I had to get my energy up in order to beat her," she said. "She's a fantastic player so I just kept telling myself to hang in there and move my feet, and I think I played a really solid set. In the tiebreak I think we were both really nervous but I was able to go for it and take it. I just really wanted to win this for my team."
With the title on the line, the third singles match would determine the winner and freshman Jennifer Brady of UCLA won the first set against senior Hanna Mar of Duke, 6-3. The Bruin broke at 4-4 in the second set after a marathon game to serve for the match at 5-4, but Mar fought back and broke and the match eventually went to a tiebreak, which Mar won, 7-3, to force a match tiebreak. The Blue Devil jumped to a 3-0 lead and never looked back, building her lead to 9-2 and winning the match on her second match point for a 3-6, 7-6 (3), 10-3 victory and the final point Duke needed to win the title.
Head coach Jamie Ashworth, in his 17th year at Duke, said Mar was a tough player to put away.
"The one thing with Hanna that you know and you can see from that match is that if you're going to beat her, you have to beat her. You can't give her opportunities," he said.
Mar, who also clinched her team's 4-2 quarterfinal win over rival North Carolina, was clearly thrilled to have won her 2 hour, 33 minute match over Brady. "It's the best feeling, I'm so happy to have done that with my team. I'm so glad that we came here together and achieved this. I tried to keep my head on straight in that moment and keep it in perspective, take things one point at a time."
Duke senior Hanna Mar after clinching the win
On Duke coming from 0-3 down to win its second ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championship, Ashworth said his team battled hard. "We just competed and tried to scrap and find a way to get back into all of these matches. 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."
On coming back from 0-3 down, Capra said it was incredible. "I give all credit to my team, they are such fighters. After losing the doubles point it is kind of a setback, but to come back from 0-3 ... this team is incredible and I'm just so happy for every one of them."
The Blue Devils will look to continue their run this spring, and 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."
To view complete coverage of the 2014 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship, including access to final draws, recaps and photos, please visit the official ITA event page. Follow the ITA on Twitter, or like the ITA Facebook page for news and photos from Charlottesville. Use the hashtag #ITAIndoors for all tweets in regards to the event, or search the term "ITAIndoors" to find others who are tweeting about the 2014 ITA Women's National Team Indoor Championship.
About the ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship
The ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship is held annually each February and has been held since 1988. The tournament features 16 participating teams: the 15 schools who won both of their matches during the 2014 ITA Kick-Off Weekend and the host site school. The tournament is held over four days, and begins on Friday with first round play, followed by quarterfinals on Saturday, semifinals on Sunday and the final on Monday.