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Henrique Cunha
Blue Devils Edge NC State in ACC Opener
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 03/16/2012
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RALEIGH, N.C. - The sixth-ranked Blue Devils swept the doubles matches and recorded singles wins on three courts to wrap up a 4-3 victory against No. 28 NC State Friday in both teams' Atlantic Coast Conference opener.

"It was a hard-fought college tennis match out there today, and I give NC State a lot of credit for hanging in there and fighting hard," said head coach Ramsey Smith.

Duke (12-2) picked up wins on all three courts in doubles play to take an early 1-0 lead in the match. After clinching the doubles point in their first match as a doubles tandem in last weekend's win over No. 8 California, freshman Raphael Hemmeler and sophomore Cale Hammond led the Blue Devils off the courts Friday with an 8-2 victory against the Wolfpack's Dominic Hodgson and Matt Thomson on court three. Another new doubles pair was successful in its debut, as sophomore Fred Saba and senior David Holland teamed up for an 8-4 win over Robbie Mudge and Jaime Pulgar in the No. 2 position to secure the point for Duke.

In the No. 1 doubles match, the 62nd-ranked duo of junior Henrique Cunha and sophomore Chris Mengel defeated NC State's Julian Sullivan and Sean Weber by a 9-7 margin while improving to 8-4 on the year.

"I was very happy with our fast start in doubles, especially since we had some new teams playing together," Smith said.

The Blue Devils kept the momentum rolling in singles play, as freshman Jason Tahir cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 victory against Sullivan in the No. 5 spot. Tahir moved to 15-5 overall and 9-1 in dual match singles play with the win.

After senior Torsten Wietoska fell to Hodgson, 6-3, 6-2, in the No. 3 matchup, 18th-ranked Mengel responded with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Mudge from the No. 2 position, giving Duke a 3-1 advantage in the match. NC State picked up another point as the Wolfpack's Austin Powell edged Saba, 7-5, 7-6 (7-1) on court four, but third-ranked Cunha clinched the victory for the Blue Devils from the top spot in the lineup with a 6-4, 6-3 defeat of No. 66 Pulgar. The win was Cunha's 11th of the season from the No. 1 slot and moved him to 25-5 this season in singles play.

"In singles, Jason and Chris stepped up big for us and Henrique came through in the clutch when we needed him the most," Smith said. "I am really proud of how Henrique battled back from double break down in the second to win the final six games and clinch the dual match."

In the remaining singles contest, senior Luke Marchese dropped a hard-fought three-set decision to NC State's Rafael Paez, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Duke opens ACC play with a 1-0 ledger, and will head to Winston-Salem, N.C. on Sunday, March 18 to take on No. 74 Wake Forest. Sunday's action is slated to begin at 11 a.m.

Duke vs NC State
Mar 16, 2012 at Raleigh, N.C.
(Curtis & Jacqueline Dail Outdoor Tennis Stadium)

#6 Duke 4, #28 NC State 3

1. #62 Henrique Cunha/Chris Mengel (DU) def. Julian Sullivan/Sean Weber (NCSU) 9-7
2. Fred Saba/David Holland (DU) def. Robbie Mudge/Jaime Pulgar (NCSU) 8-4
3. Raphael Hemmeler/Cale Hammond (DU) def. Dominic Hodgson/Matt Thomson (NCSU) 8-2

1. #3 Henrique Cunha (DU) def. #66 Jaime Pulgar (NCSU) 6-4, 6-3
2. #18 Chris Mengel (DU) def. Robbie Mudge (NCSU) 6-4, 6-2
3. Dominic Hodgson (NCSU) def. Torsten Wietoska (DU) 6-3, 6-2
4. Austin Powell (NCSU) def. Fred Saba (DU) 7-5, 7-6 (7-1)
5. Jason Tahir (DU) def. Julian Sullivan (NCSU) 6-1, 6-3
6. Rafael Paez (NCSU) def. Luke Marchese (DU) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3

Match Notes
Duke 12-2; National ranking #6
NC State 14-3; National ranking #28
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (5,3,2,4,1,6)