DURHAM, N.C. - Playing in its first two home matches of the 2011 season, the No. 14 Duke men's tennis team cruised to a pair of 7-0 victories over Elon and N.C. Central at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.
"It was a good test for us to get a bunch of matches under our belt," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "We wanted to be in a good place mentally and physically heading into next weekend when we have a tough region for the ITA Kickoff Weekend. Doubles has been our main focus and we looked better there."
Elon had claimed a 5-2 upset over a ranked South Carolilna squad one week ago but the Blue Devils were too much for the Phoenix as they won all three doubles matches and did not lose a set in singles.
Duke was nearly perfect against N.C. Central in the nightcap of the doubleheader as they only lost five total games in six singles matches. The match last just under one hour and 45 minutes as the Blue Devils again won in straight sets in every match.
All three Duke freshmen played in in front of the home fans for the first time. Chris Mengel and Fred Saba played in both matches while Cale Hammond appeared in his first career dual match against N.C. Central. Mengel, ranked No. 118 in singles, and Saba each picked up two victories while Hammond won his only match, 6-0, 6-0.
"Chris and Fred have really been focused throughout our first three dual matches," said Smith. "They are really good competitors. I like their attitude on the court. They are positive, aggressive and competitive. They seem to thrive in the dual match atmosphere."
Mengel got his first chance to play at the No. 1 position against N.C. Central and made the most of it. After N.C. Central's Jack Waissen made it 2-1, Mengel went on a roll and would only lose one more game as he cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 win and is now 14-4 in his first year. Saba improved to 12-6 and clinched the Elon match, giving him two match-clinching wins in his first three career dual matches.
"That was pretty cool to get a chance to play at the No. 1 spot," said Mengel. "Once I got a feel for him I started playing a lot better. He is a good player so it was good for me to get on top of him early."
Duke's two players who are ranked in the top 10 in singles, Reid Carleton and Henrique Cunha, only saw action against Elon. Carleton (No. 5) rolled over Eric Turner in the No. 2 position, 6-0, 6-2. Cunha (No. 9) played in the top singles spot and after winning a first-set tiebreaker finished off Phillip Nemec in straight sets 7-6 (2), 6-2. Each of the two Blue Devils are now 15-2 in singles. Cunha has a streak of 22 consecutive victories in dual matches dating back to Jan. 31, 2010 when he suffered a loss in the ITA Kickoff Weekend match against Alabama.
Junior David Holland played at the No. 5 position against N.C. Central and put together an impressive performance. He won 6-0, 6-0 and finished his match in just 30 minutes for his fifth win of the year.
In doubles, Pinsky and Saba teamed up for two wins to reach double digits for the year. They are now 11-3 overall. Holland and Mengel picked up two wins and are 3-0 in dual matches. Carleton and Cunha are a team-best 14-2 after their win at the top spot against Elon. Hammond and Michel won 8-1 against N.C. Central and are now 3-1.
The next match for the Blue Devils will be on Friday when they host Michigan in the first round of the ITA Kickoff Weekend at 10 a.m. in Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.
Tennis Match Results
Elon vs Duke
Jan. 23, 2011 at Durham, N.C.
#14 Duke 7, Elon 0
1. #12 Reid Carleton/Henrique Cunha (Duke) def. Chase Helpingstine/Phillip Nemec (Elon) 8-4
2. Jared Pinsky/Fred Saba (Duke) def. Alberto Rojas/Cody S-MacDowell (Elon) 8-2
3. David Holland/Chris Mengel (Duke) def. Cameron Silverman/Eric Turner (Elon) 8-3
1. #9 Henrique Cunha (Duke) def. Phillip Nemec (Elon) 7-6 (2), 6-2
2. #5 Reid Carleton (Duke) def. Eric Turner (Elon) 6-0, 6-2
3. #118 Chris Mengel (Duke) def. Cameron Silverman (Elon) 6-2, 6-2
4. Fred Saba (Duke) def. Chase Helpingstine (Elon) 6-3, 6-0
5. Jared Pinsky (Duke) def. Alberto Rojas (Elon) 6-4, 6-3
6. Luke Marchese (Duke) def. Cody S-MacDowell (Elon) 6-1, 6-3
Duke 2-0; National ranking #14
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (6,2,4,5,3,1)
N.C. Central vs Duke
Jan. 23, 2011 at Durham, N.C.
#14 Duke 7, N.C. Central 0
1. Jared Pinsky/Fred Saba (Duke) def. Trey Chatman/Jack Waissen (NCCU) 8-0
2. David Holland/Chris Mengel (Duke) def. Alejandro Espitia/Andres Perez (NCCU) 8-2
3. Cale Hammond/Alain Michel (Duke) def. Johnny Brown/Christopher Mack (NCCU) 8-1
1. Chris Mengel (Duke) def. Jack Waissen (NCCU) 6-1, 6-1
2. Fred Saba (Duke) def. Alejandro Espitia (NCCU) 6-0, 6-1
3. Jared Pinsky (Duke) def. Trey Chatman (NCCU) 6-1, 6-1
4. Luke Marchese (Duke) def. Andres Perez (NCCU) 6-0, 6-0
5. David Holland (Duke) def. Johnny Brown (NCCU) 6-0, 6-0
6. Cale Hammond (Duke) def. Christopher Mack (NCCU) 6-0, 6-0
N.C. Central 0-1
Duke 3-0; National ranking #14
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (5,6,4,1,2,3)