HONOLULU, Hawaii – The fifth-ranked Duke men’s tennis team is set to begin its 2013 spring season in paradise at the University of Hawai’i Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. The No. 5 ranking garnered by the Blue Devils is the highest opening team ranking under the tutelage of head coach Ramsey Smith during his five seasons.
“We are excited to kick off our 2013 campaign against Hawaii on Wednesday,” said Smith. “Thanks to the continued support of Greg and Jane Hills we have the opportunity to spend the first week of our season here in paradise. Our guys have been working hard, and they are looking forward to competing.”
Duke is coming off an impressive fall campaign, headlined by senior Henrique Cunha and sophomore Raphael Hemmeler capturing the doubles title at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships in November in Flushing, N.Y. The duo begins the spring as the top-ranked doubles tandem in the country. Cunha, who owns 119 career doubles victories to begin the spring, sits just two wins shy of tying Doug Root’s all-time record of 121 career double wins. Cunha and Hemmeler earned a bid at the event in Flushing, N.Y., after capturing the doubles championship at the ITA Carolina Regional in October.
The team of juniors Chris Mengel and Fred Saba earned a No. 37 ranking in doubles to start the spring, while freshman Michael Redlicki and sophomore Jason Tahir were listed 39th. Redlicki and Tahir won the doubles title at the USTA Clay Court Invitational at Disney in the month of November, while Mengel and Saba were one of three Blue Devil duos to capture the doubles title at the Duke Fab 4 Invitational.
In singles, the Blue Devils are led by 11th-ranked Cunha, who passed Ludovic Walter for most singles victories with 129 at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships in November. Cunha earned a team-high 12 victories in the fall.
Redlicki will make his dual season debut after being ranked 14th to begin the spring in the ITA singles rankings and earning 11 victories in the fall. The Blue Devils boast six ranked singles players to begin the spring, with Saba at 23rd, No. 38 Hemmeler, No. 46 Mengel and Tahir at No. 123 joining Redlicki and Cunha in the ledger.
Last season, the Blue Devils earned 25 victories to tie the 1999 and 2000 squads for the second most victories all-time in a season, while also reaching the NCAA quarterfinals for the seventh time overall and the first time since the 2001 season.
Duke will face the Warriors for the second time in program history, with the Blue Devils winning the inaugural meeting between the two schools, 7-0. Hawai’i is coming off a 7-12 overall record during the 2012 campaign.