DURHAM, N.C. - No. 14 Duke got back to its winning ways on Friday with a 7-0 sweep of Virginia Commonwealth at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.
The Blue Devils were coming off the first loss of the 2011 season, falling on the road to No. 16 Illinois on Monday, 4-2. In both the Illinois and Notre Dame matches last weekend Duke got off to slow starts in singles and found themselves facing an uphill climb. A few good days of practice and playing in front of a home crowd was the perfect recipe to get back on track.
"After a loss it pushes guys to practice harder and be more focused during the week," said freshman Fred Saba. "It paid off in today's match with a sweep as we set the tone by performing well early in singles."
Duke was up a break in all six first sets and would go on to win each one. Saba and Luke Marchese each finished quickly with 6-2, 6-2 victories. Saba is the fifth Blue Devil to reach 15 wins this season. Not long after No. 118 Chris Mengel clinched the match with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Antoine Baroz at the No. 3 position.
No. 9 Sophomore Henrique Cunha won his match to remain undefeated in dual match play. He is now 6-0 at the top slot in the lineup and 19-2 overall this season. He is projected to face the No. 1 player in the nation on Saturday in Tennessee's Rhyne Williams.
A pair of seniors finished out the sweep for the Blue Devils. Jared Pinsky had a close first set but did not drop a game in the second, rolling to a 7-5, 6-0 win. No. 5 Reid Carleton improved to 19-3 with his team-high 11th win over a ranked opponent as he defeated No. 123 Max Wennakoski 6-4, 7-6 (4).
"I thought we had a better week of practice this week than we had last week," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "It is always good to see how you come out after a loss and the way we played in singles made this a good rebound match for us."
Duke also won all three doubles contests. In dual matches this season, the Blue Devils are 19-4 in doubles matches. Carleton and Cunha stay undefeated at 7-0 and improve to 19-2 for the year.
On Saturday the Blue Devils will host No. 3 Tennessee at 6 p.m. in the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. Admission is free of charge.
Tennis Match Results
VCU vs Duke
Feb. 11, 2011 at Durham, N.C.
#14 Duke 7, Virginia Commonwealth 0
1. #12 Reid Carleton/Henrique Cunha (DU) def. Camill Salomon/J. Vazquez Catoira (VCU) 8-2
2. Tim Johannsen/Antoine Baroz (VCU) def. Jared Pinsky/Fred Saba (DU) 8-4
3. David Holland/Chris Mengel (DU) def. Filip Svensson/Max Wennakoski (VCU) 8-3
1. #9 Henrique Cunha (DU) def. Tim Johannsen (VCU) 6-3, 6-1
2. #5 Reid Carleton (DU) def. #123 Max Wennakoski (VCU) 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)
3. #118 Chris Mengel (DU) def. Antoine Baroz (VCU) 6-4, 6-1
4. Fred Saba (DU) def. Camill Salomon (VCU) 6-2, 6-2
5. Jared Pinsky (DU) def. Alejandro Argente (VCU) 7-5, 6-0
6. Luke Marchese (DU) def. Filip Svensson (VCU) 6-2, 6-2
Duke 7-1; National ranking #14
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (6,4,3,1,5,2)