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Duke women’s tennis 2021 season preview

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Overview

Behind high returners and some fresh faces, Duke looks set to make his third straight Final Four appearance in three full seasons.

Karolina Berankova, the country’s sixth incoming freshman, and Vanderbilt redshirt sophomore transfer Georgia Drummy represent the newcomers. The remaining six players are all returners, led by senior Kelly Chen and graduate student Meible Chi. While the Blue Devils may have fallen slightly from their preseason No. 6 rankings due to a rare early-season loss, they have the talent to regain and possibly surpass that spot in conference play.Campbell Lawson

New player to watch: Georgia Drummy

Drummy joins Vanderbilt’s Blue Devils and has the talent to raise the bar for Duke women’s tennis. The Ireland-born, currently ITA’s 28th-seeded singles player in the country, ended her freshman year with Vanderbilt as the team’s top singles player. The addition of Drummys already demonstrates her prowess with a 3-1 singles record by non-conference this season and could take the Blue Devils to the next level. -Matthew Hawkins

Returning Player to Watch: Kelly Chen

Ranked as the country’s No. 8 singles player, Chen is entering her senior season with high expectations and an established reputation. Chens’ career at Duke is already approaching her 100th win in singles and is impressive to say the least, and she’s not done yet. Chen will not only be a valuable leader to the team, she will also have the opportunity to pursue individual titles in both the ACC and NCAA championships. Hawkins

Most Anticipated Matchup: In North Carolina, March 19

North Carolina started this season as the nation’s # 1 ranked team and has handily held that spot through non-conference play. Duke came in at No. 6 for the year and has since dropped slightly, but remains at No. 10. As such, the Blue Devils’ lone match against the Tar Heels is certainly the most anticipated match of the campaign. -Lawson

In the best case

With an experienced and talented roster, the sky is the limit for the Blue Devils this season. Under the leadership of Chi and Chen, it is hard to imagine that this team will not remain competitive until May. But if the additions from Berankova and Drummy can unlock their potential, Duke should have a good chance of making a splash in the postseason. If all goes well, the Blue Devils will be well in the mix for both the ACC and NCAA titles. Hawkins

In the worst case

The worst-case scenario for this year’s Blue Devil squad is that they prove unable to finish in singles matches, as was the case against Georgia Tech during the ITA Kickoff Weekend, leading to more surprising defeats. The ACC is probably the best conference in the country. If Duke can’t find consistency, early exits in both the ACC and NCAA championships are certainly not ruled out. -Lawson

Predictions

Lawson: 16-4 (10-3 in ACC), loss in semifinal ACC, loss in semifinal NCAA

Hawkins: 15-5 (9-4 in ACC), Loss in ACC Finals, Loss in NCAA Quarter Finals

Editor’s Note: This is part of The Chronicle’s series of previews for Duke’s spring sports, the rest of which can be found here



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