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Courtesy: Rex Miller
Raphael Hemmeler
Blue Devils Suffer First Home Loss of 2012
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 03/09/2012
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DURHAM, N.C. - Fifth-ranked Duke dropped three close doubles matches and split the singles contests to lose a 4-3 decision to No. 15 Pepperdine Friday afternoon at Ambler Tennis Stadium. The Blue Devils suffered just their first home loss of the 2012 season while falling to 10-2 overall on the year.  

In doubles, the 15th-ranked duo of junior Henrique Cunha and sophomore Fred Saba jumped out to a 6-4 lead before falling to fourth-ranked Alex Llompart and Finn Tearney of Pepperdine, 8-6. Sebastian Fanselow and Jenson Turner clinched the doubles point for the Waves from the No. 2 spot with an 8-4 victory over Duke's tandem of senior David Holland and sophomore Chris Mengel.

Senior Torsten Wietoska and freshman Raphael Hemmeler battled to a tiebreak against Pepperdine's Hugh Clarke and David Sofaer on court three, but ultimately dropped a 9-8 (7-4) decision.

"We put ourselves in a position to win the doubles point. We were up 6-4 at two spots, and just kind of let it slide a little bit," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "It all happened pretty quickly. [Pepperdine] stepped up and played well and they were able to finish us off at one and two. But I still felt really good going into singles despite losing the doubles point."

Duke responded with strong starts in singles play, winning first sets on three of the six courts. Saba did not drop a single game on his way to a 6-0, 6-0 victory over No. 96 Mousheg Hovhannisyan. The win was Saba's fifth of the spring from the No. 4 position, and evened the match at one-all. However, Pepperdine quickly reclaimed the lead as senior Luke Marchese fell to Clarke, 6-2, 6-3, on court six.

Freshman Jason Tahir collected his first victory of the spring from the No. 5 spot in the lineup, defeating Jenson Turner, 6-4, 6-2, to knot the match at 2-2. Tahir improved to 13-5 overall and 7-1 in dual match play with the win. In the No. 2 singles matchup, 19th-ranked Mengel suffered a hard-fought 6-2, 6-3 setback to No. 26 Tearney for just his second loss of the spring. Mengel is now 7-2 from the No. 2 position and 6-3 against ranked opponents.

With the Waves leading 3-2, the decision came down to a pair of tightly-contested matches on courts one and three. The No. 1 contest featured a pair of top-20 players as second-ranked Cunha faced No. 18 Fanselow. Fanselow took the first set by a narrow 6-4 margin before the two players battled to a tiebreak in the second set. Cunha went ahead, 3-1, but could not hold off Fanselow, falling by a score of 7-4 in the tiebreaker. The loss was just Cunha's first of the season in dual match play, dropping him to 9-1.

Playing in the No. 3 spot for the first time in his career, Hemmeler turned in an impressive performance against No. 120 Llompart. The Duke rookie battled to a three-set decision, edging Llompart, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, to improve to 8-1 on the spring.

"[Hemmeler]'s had a phenomenal freshman year," Smith said. "He's won a lot of matches. He's a great competitor. Llompart's a very tough out. He's a really scrappy guy, so it is going to give [Hemmeler] a lot of confidence moving forward and it's always nice to win that last match even though we lost the dual match."

Duke fell to 10-2 on the season while the Waves improved to 7-6. The Blue Devils return to Ambler Tennis Stadium on Sunday, March 11 at 12 p.m. to host eighth-ranked California in a showdown of top-10 teams. A live blog, live video and live scoring will be available for Sunday's match.

Pepperdine vs Duke
Mar 09, 2012 at Durham, N.C.
(Ambler Tennis Stadium)

#15 Pepperdine 4, #5 Duke 3

1. #4 Alex Llompart/Finn Tearney (PEP) def. #15 Henrique Cunha/Fred Saba (DU) 8-6
2. Sebastian Fanselow/Jenson Turner (PEP) def. David Holland/Chris Mengel (DU) 8-4
3. Hugh Clarke/David Sofaer (PEP) def. Torsten Wietoska/Raphael Hemmeler (DU) 9-8 (7-4)

1. #18 Sebastian Fanselow (PEP) def. #2 Henrique Cunha (DU) 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)
2. #26 Finn Tearney (PEP) def. #19 Chris Mengel (DU) 6-2, 6-3
3. Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. #120 Alex Llompart (PEP) 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
4. Fred Saba (DU) def. #96 Mousheg Hovhannisyan (PEP) 6-0, 6-0
5. Jason Tahir (DU) def. Jenson Turner (PEP) 6-4, 6-2
6. Hugh Clarke (PEP) def. Luke Marchese (DU) 6-2, 6-3

Match Notes
Pepperdine 7-6; National ranking #15
Duke 10-2; National ranking #5
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (4,6,5,2,1,3)