SEATTLE, Wash. - After two impressive wins over the No. 2 and 11 teams in the country, No. 17 Duke was defeated by No. 3 Tennessee in the semifinals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle, Wash.
"Tennessee played a really solid match and they are a very tough team to beat," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "We battled hard, competed well and put ourselves in a position to win and just came up a little short. We are improving and certainly moving in the right direction."
The two teams met eight days ago in Durham with the Volunteers claiming a 7-0 victory in a tightly contested match. This time around the match was just as close with the Blue Devils winning the top two singles contests and Tennessee pulling out doubles and the bottom three singles spots.
Duke sophomore Henrique Cunha faced his third straight top 10 opponent, this time going up against the No. 1 player in the country, Rhyne Williams. Cunha controlled the match and won in straight sets 6-4, 6-2 for his 20th win of the season. It is his seventh career victory over a top 10 opponent and second over a No. 1 player. Both wins over No. 1 were against Tennessee opponents as he downed John-Patrick Smith last season when he held the top spot.
Reid Carleton, the No. 6 player in the country, faced Smith on Sunday. Smith is ranked 17th in the ITA singles rankings and was No. 1 in the preseason rankings this fall. Carleton cruised to a 6-3, 6-3 win to improve to 22-4 overall. He is 14-4 against ranked opponents this year and 9-2 in dual match play.
"Our captains came through huge for us today and demonstrated how tough we are at the top of our lineup," said Ramsey Smith. "Henrique showed a lot of character bouncing back from a few disappointing losses and took out the No. 1 player in the country. Reid went undefeated the entire weekend and had a huge win today over the preseason #1 in the country. Reid has improved so much and has matured into an outstanding all around tennis player and leader."
The Blue Devils fell behind early in the match when Tennessee took the No. 2 and 3 doubles matches for the first team point. No. 119 Boris Conkic made it 2-0 for the Volunteers with a 6-1, 6-1 win at the No. 4 spot. Carleton and Cunha's wins evened the match at 2-2 with three courts left to be decided in three sets. Tennessee was able to pull out the matches at No. 5 and 6 to advance to the finals.
Duke falls to 9-3 with the loss. They will return home for a match against Michigan on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Blue Devils beat the Wolverines, 7-0, in Durham earlier this season during the ITA Kickoff Weekend.
Tennis Match Results
Duke vs Tennessee
Feb. 20, 2011 at Seattle, Wash.
#3 Tennessee 4, #17 Duke 2
1. #8 Boris Conkic/John-Patrick Smith (TEN) vs. #9 Reid Carleton/Henrique Cunha (Duke) 6-6, unfinished
2. Jarryd Chaplin/Rhyne Williams (TEN) def. Jared Pinsky/Fred Saba (Duke) 8-2
3. Edward Jones/Matteo Fago (TEN) def. David Holland/Chris Mengel (Duke) 8-3
1. #10 Henrique Cunha (Duke) def. #1 Rhyne Williams (TEN) 6-4, 6-2
2. #6 Reid Carleton (Duke) def. #17 John-Patrick Smith (TEN) 6-3, 6-3
3. #68 Matteo Fago (TEN) vs. Chris Mengel (Duke) 6-4, 6-7, 3-2, unfinished
4. #119 Boris Conkic (TEN) def. Fred Saba (Duke) 6-1, 6-1
5. Edward Jones (TEN) def. Jared Pinsky (Duke) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
6. Jarryd Chaplin (TEN) def. Luke Marchese (Duke) 6-4, 1-6, 6-3
Duke 9-3; National ranking #17
Tennessee 9-0; National ranking #3
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (4,1,2,6,5)