URBANA, Ill. - No. 14 Duke played on the road for the second straight day and received its first loss of the 2011 season, falling 4-2 to No. 16 Illinois at the Atkins Tennis Center.
The Blue Devils pulled out a tightly contested doubles point on a 7-5 tiebreaker win by David Holland and Chris Mengel at the No. 3 spot to take the early 1-0 lead. No. 12 Reid Carleton and Henrique Cunha stayed undefeated in dual match play at 6-0 and are now 18-2 overall.
"I was excited with our doubles after losing a heartbreaker on a tiebreaker yesterday," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "I was proud of Holland and Mengel for stepping up and winning the tiebreaker in a tough environment."
The Fighting Illini would prove to be too strong in the bottom half of the singles lineup winning three matches in straight sets. The wins at the No. 4, 5 and 6 spots in the order gave Illinois a 3-1 lead in the match.
Carleton, the No. 5 player in the nation, defeated No. 111 Johnny Hamui in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 to bring the Blue Devils back within one point on the team score. It was his 10th victory over a ranked player this year as he is now tied with Cunha for the team lead in wins with 18.
At the No. 3 position, No. 121 Abe Souza of Illinois cruised through the third set for a 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 victory over No. 118 Chris Mengel to clinch the match for the Fighting Illini.
"Illinois plays well at home and is a tough team but we need to come out better in singles," said Smith. "We can't lose matches early like that. We just need to keep working hard and get ready for a big weekend at home coming up."
The No. 1 position was not played out after the match was decided.
The Blue Devils are now 6-1 on the year while Illinois improves to 3-2. Duke will return to Durham for a pair of matches this weekend at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. They will host VCU on Friday and No. 3 Tennessee on Saturday with both matches scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
Tennis Match Results
Duke vs Illinois
Feb. 07, 2011 at Urbana, Ill.
#16 Illinois 4, #14 Duke 2
1. #12 Henrique Cunha/Reid Carleton (Duke) def. Dennis Nevolo/Johnny Hamui (ILL) 8-3
2. Stephen Hoh/Connor Roth (ILL) def. Jared Pinsky/Fred Saba (Duke) 8-4
3. David Holland/Chris Mengel (Duke) def. Abe Souza/Roy Kalmanovich (ILL) 9-8 (7-5)
1. #11 Dennis Nevolo (ILL) vs. #9 Henrique Cunha (Duke) 6-7 (4-7), 5-3, unfinished
2. #5 Reid Carleton (Duke) def. #111 Johnny Hamui (ILL) 6-4, 6-4
3. #121 Abe Souza (ILL) def. #118 Chris Mengel (Duke) 6-3, 1-6, 6-1
4. Roy Kalmanovich (ILL) def. Fred Saba (Duke) 6-4, 6-1
5. Stephen Hoh (ILL) def. Jared Pinsky (Duke) 6-4, 6-1
6. Bruno Abdelnour (ILL) def. Luke Marchese (Duke) 6-1, 6-4
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (5,4,6,2,3)
Duke (6-1); National ranking #14
Illinois (3-2); National ranking #16