Duke senior Virginia Elena Carta begins, ends career with national championships

Shane Bevel/NCAA Photos

Duke senior Virginia Elena Carta begins, ends career with national championships

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Duke senior Virginia Elena Carta begins, ends career with national championships

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Duke’s Virginia Elena Carta entered on top, and now she leaves on top.

Three years ago as a freshman, Carta dominated at the NCAA Championship in Eugene, Ore., winning the individual national championship by eight strokes thanks to four consecutive stroke-play rounds in the 60’s.

As a senior, the native of Udine, Italy, capped off her college career in Hollywood fashion with a team title.

In a wild final match at Arkansas’ Blessings Golf Club that featured three pairings (including Carta’s) in need of playoff holes to decide the winner, the Blue Devils beat Wake Forest in an all-ACC final Wednesday 3-2.

FINAL: Duke wins seventh national title
PHOTOS: Images from the championship

Carta didn’t win her final match against Siyun “Swing” Liu, losing on the second playoff hole, she won’t let that diminish what she and her team accomplished this week in Arkansas.

“It’s been a dream of mine since freshman year to win (the national championship) as a team and obviously to do it my senior year, to close out my college career, it’s something very special to me,” said Carta. “It’s a big win after a dry period but it couldn’t get any more special than a win with the whole team knowing that we had each other’s back until the very end.”

Carta finished the stroke play segment T-43 at 11-over par, last compared to her four teammates. She turned it up for match play, finishing the week 2-1, including a 24-hole marathon match in the quarterfinals against Stanford’s Ziyi Wang that tied an NCAA-record.

“It’s a special team and sharing this big thing (holding the national championship trophy) with the team has been so much fun,” added Carta, who head coach Dan Brooks sent out first in all three matches. “The memories will never go away.”

Brooks described Carta as a caring leader and as the glue of the team, but not in the way you may think.

“It’s not like she gets up in front of the team and gives a speech or anything like that, explained Brooks. “It’s just the little interactions and that’s the glue that keeps it fun.”

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