DURHAM, NC--Winthrop's bid to pull off an upset over the No. 3 ranked Duke Blue Devils in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Women's Tennis Championship came up short as the Eagles fell 4-0 on Friday afternoon at the Ambler Tennis Stadium.
With the loss, the Big South champion Eagles close out the season with a 15-11 record while Duke improves to 25-2 by capturing its 15th straight win and will face South Carolina in the second round on Saturday. Winthrop, which entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed in the Duke regional, is still looking for its first victory in NCAA play after dropping to 0-12. Winthrop is now 0-4 against Duke. The teams last met in the 2006 NCAA opening round .
The Eagles faced a tall task against Duke which had all six of its singles players nationally ranked and had not lost a home match this season. as it improves to 13-0 and ties the school record for most home victories in a season.
Duke took the doubles point by taking 8-3 and 8-2 wins at the No. 2 and 3 positions while the No. 1 team of Yasmine Alkema and Andressa Garcia trailed 7-2 when the point was determined. Winthrop's No. 2 team of senior Sandra Herrera and junior Giovanna Portiolli fell behind 6-1 before taking two out of next three points before being closed out. The No. 3 duo of freshmen Ekin Gunaysu and Camille Amrani were tied with Duke at 1-1 and trailed 3-2 before the Blue Devils ran off five straight points to take the set.
In singles action, Duke took the deciding three points by winning at the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5 positions. Garcia, a sophomore fell 6-1, 6-3 at No. 2 while Amrani lost at No. 5 in straight sets 6-0, 6-0. Senior Sandra Herrera fell 6-4, 6-1 at No. 3 in her final collegiate match. Alkema was tied in her No. 1 match at one set each as was Portiolli at No. 4. Freshman Monica Aguado was trailing 1-0 when the match ended.
"Our team played a very good match against the No. 3 ranked team in the nation," said head coach Cid Carvalho. "We played some good sets, but our goal now is to win those sets. That is the next step for our program. I am looking forward to next season as we lose only one senior and have some very good players returning who can build on this experience.
"We had a very good season. We played as a team and we played united. That was our strength all year. We won the Big South which was a big accomplishment," he said.
As for Herrera, the lone senior, Carvalho said she has been a valuable player and had a great career as she was came up with some big victories along the way. "We will certainly miss her especially her leadership. She played a key role with this year's team as captain."