DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 10 Duke men’s tennis team makes its final preparations for the ACC season on Thursday with a top-10 matchup against No. 8 Michigan. The Blue Devils (9-4) are off to a 5-1 start at home while the Wolverines (8-2) are 4-1 away from home.
All regular season Duke men’s tennis home events at Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center and Ambler Tennis Stadium are free to the public. General public parking is available in the Blue Zone parking lot off Duke University Road.
Michigan Series History
The Blue Devils are 11-4 against the Wolverines with the two squads having faced each other every year from 2011-16 after having not played since 1984 … Since the series resumed, Duke is 5-2 versus Michigan, with the losses a 4-3 setback on February 26, 2011, in Durham and a 7-0 loss in Ann Arbor on February 7, 2016 … In their dual match singles careers, Nicolas Alvarez is 1-1 while Catalin Mateas and Ryan Dickerson are 0-1.
Scouting the Wolverines
Michigan is led by Alex Knight at the No. 1 spot, where he is 4-1 … Knight, ranked No. 5 in the most recent Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) ledger, also owns a team-best mark of 16-3 overall … Filling the No. 2 spot in the order has been Runhao Hua, who is ranked No. 33 … Hua has a 6-3 ledger in the second slot … Mattias Siimar and Myles Schalet, ranked No. 122, have split time at No. 3 with Siimar 2-2 there and Schalet 2-1 … The doubles team of Hua and Knight are 4-2 at No. 1 and ranked No. 8 while Connor Johnston and Schalet have filled the No. 2 slot most often, playing to a 3-1 record.
“This is a great opportunity,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “With our schedule we have a lot of opportunities against top teams. This is certainly one of them. Obviously it’s nice to be playing at home. Michigan is a great team having a great year. They play very aggressive tennis. I think our guys are excited for the challenge. It should be a great match.”
A Challenging Stretch for Duke
Of the Blue Devils’ last five matches, three have been against teams ranked in the top 25 at the time of the contests … Duke is 1-2 in its last three ranked tilts, falling to No. 2 Ohio State and No. 10 Illinois while picking up a win against No. 22 Notre Dame.
“I think we’re certainly going to be prepared for the ACC season,” Smith said of his team’s challenging schedule. “My philosophy is to schedule tough. We choose who we play in the nonconference season. We play everybody in the ACC, but nonconference we schedule tough teams to challenge ourselves early and prepare ourselves for the ACC season as well as the two big tournaments, the ACC Championship and NCAA Team Championship.”
A Top-10 Match
Thursday’s clash against Michigan will be Duke’s first top-10 matchup since the 10th-ranked Blue Devils took on No. 7 Southern California on May 14, 2015, in the Round of 16 at the NCAA Team Championship … It will be the first top-10 showdown in Durham since No. 7 Duke met No. 9 Kentucky on January 19, 2014.
A Quadruple Winner
During Saturday’s doubleheader against Coastal Carolina and Furman, sophomore Robert Levine was a quadruple winner, earning victories in singles and doubles during both matches … With the singles wins, Levine improved to 7-6 overall and 4-5 in dual matches … The doubles matches were Levine’s first of the season.
“Robert has dealt with a lot of injuries and hasn’t had nearly as many matches as we would like him to have,” Smith said. “He certainly got better from match to match. His second doubles was much better than his first doubles. His second singles was much better than his first singles. I think he can build a lot from that. His last match in singles was excellent and at a very high level.”
Stachowiak Reaches 50 Career Wins
Sophomore Nick Stachowiak turned in a 2-0 singles record Saturday, winning both matches in straight sets on court two … Stachowiak also surpassed the 50-win plateau in his singles career, earning wins No. 50 and 51 on Saturday … Stachowiak leads the Blue Devils with a 19-5 singles mark this season and is 8-2 in dual match competition … He has won his last three decisions and is 7-1 in his last eight … A year ago, Stachowiak was tabbed the team’s Charles Hamilton Hargrave Most Valuable Player after playing to a 32-12 singles ledger and 27-8 dual record.
Two More Approaching 50 Wins
Juniors Mateas and Dickerson are on the verge of capturing 50 career singles victories … Heading into this week’s action, Dickerson owns 47 career singles wins and Mateas 45 … Dickerson turned in a personal-best 22 wins during the 2016-17 campaign and has topped his victory total from his 12-victory freshman year already with 13 … Mateas has seven wins this year, but has finished just four of the 12 dual matches he has started … He has beaten ranked opponents in his last two decisions, downing No. 40 Ryotaro Matsumura of Kentucky and No. 118 Guillermo Cabrera of Notre Dame.
Duke up to No. 10 in Oracle/ITA Poll with Two in ITA Singles Rankings
Following two weekend wins, the Blue Devils bumped up three spots to No. 10 in this week’s Oracle/ITA rankings … The No. 10 ranking is the Blue Devils’ highest since standing No. 10 in the final 2015 poll … The singles rankings remain the same this week with Duke’s redshirt junior Alvarez at No. 32 and Mateas at No. 92.
Last Time Out
The Blue Devils opened the home outdoor portion of the season with a Saturday doubleheader sweep, downing Coastal Carolina and Furman 4-0 inside Ambler Tennis Stadium ... Against Furman, Duke took the doubles point with wins on courts one and three … On court three, Levine and Mateas won 6-1 against Trevor Croyder and Clarke Wilson … Court one had Stachowiak and freshman Sean Sculley finish off Cameron Green and Jake Munns, 6-3 … In singles, Levine downed Jake Bhangdia, 6-1, 6-1 on court five for a 2-0 overall lead … Duke pushed its advantage to 3-0 against the Paladins with Stachowiak downing Munns, 6-3, 6-1 on court two … The Blue Devils finished the match on court four, where Dickerson downed Drew Singerman 6-2, 6-2.
Due to a schedule conflict, Duke’s match at Wake Forest has been rescheduled to Wednesday, March 21, at 4 p.m.
Duke starts ACC action Sunday with a 1 p.m. home match against Virginia Tech.