DURHAM, N.C. – Down 2-0 and 3-2, the Duke men’s tennis team staged a comeback to pick up its first win of the dual match season, defeating Elon 4-3 on Saturday evening at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. Junior Nick Stachowiak provided the winning point, coming back for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory on court one for the final tally. Senior Catalin Mateas set the stage for Stachowiak with his straight-set win on court four that evened the match at 3-3.
"It was a full team effort tonight," Stachowiak said. "We bounced back really well and got some quick singles wins, which helped the momentum. Catalin and I were the last two out here battling and just playing one point at a time. We came out with the win today and that felt great."
With the win, Duke improved to 16-1 in its last 17 season-opening dual matches and to 13-1 all-time versus Elon. The Blue Devils have also captured their indoor home opener in 14 of the last 16 years.
"It was a battle tonight," head coach Ramsey Smith said. "Elon played great and pushed us. We got off to a little bit of a shaky start, but handled some adversity. We bounced back well in singles. I thought we competed really well. It was neat to have it come down to Catalin and Nick, knowing we needed both those matches. Both those guys stepped up and got it done."
The Blue Devils dropped the doubles point with Elon taking a 6-1 win on court three and 6-4 decision in the first position. The Phoenix duo of Kyle Frankel and Camilo Ponce cruised past Duke’s senior pair of Mateas and Vincent Lin on court three, 6-1.
Duke evened the doubles action on court two, where senior Jason Lapidus and sophomore Sean Sculley took down Felipe Osses-Konig and Mario Paccini, 6-4. Duke broke in the first game and held to take an early 2-0 advantage. Elon was never able to tie the set as the Blue Devils picked up the victory.
On court one, a back-and-forth affair swung the Phoenix’s way with Felipe Sarrasague and Taylor Foote breaking in the final game to secure the point, downing juniors Spencer Furman and Stachowiak. The two teams traded breaks and Duke trailed 3-2 before Elon broke again to go ahead 4-2. Furman and Stachowiak rallied with a break and hold to knot the set at 4-4, but Elon held and broke to end the match.
Once in singles, Elon extended its advantage to 2-0 with Osses-Konig downing Lapidus 6-2, 6-1 on court five.
Duke got its first point to trail 2-1 from Sculley, who topped Dino Bonetta, 6-0, 6-2, in the third position. Sculley turned a 2-2 tie in the second set into four straight wins to close out the match.
The Blue Devils knotted the match at 2-2 with Furman defeating Paccini, 6-3, 6-1, on court two. Furman jumped ahead 4-0 in the first set before Paccini cut the deficit to 4-2 and 5-3, but Furman broke to close the set. With a 1-1 tie in the second set, Furman rattled off the last five games for the win.
Elon regained the lead at 3-2 with Ponce defeating junior Samir Agadi, 6-3, 6-2, on court six.
Mateas’ win was against Frankel. Mateas trailed 3-1, 4-2 and 5-3 in the first set before storming back with the final four games to capture the set, 7-5. In the second set, Mateas turned a 3-1 lead into a 6-2 set for the match.
Stachowiak came back to defeat Sarrasague on court one for the clinching point. Stachowiak trailed 3-0 in the opening set before cutting the deficit to 4-3, but Sarrasague broke and held to end the set. The second set was even at 2-2 before Stachowiak held with a deuce point and broke to take control of the set. The third set was all Stachowiak as he sealed the victory.
"I go into every match preparing the same way," Stachowiak said. "I go in with the mindset that every match could come down to me. I play one point at a time and try to execute the game plan. These teams wins you can't beat. When you battle with your friends, it brings us closer and has us looking forward to the next match we have."
“Nick works extremely hard,” Smith added. “He worked really hard over break and in the fall. He is in great shape. The longer the match goes, the better I feel about Nick. Mentally he is just a rock. He was super gritty out there tonight. He went into beast mode. He stopped missing. He was maybe forcing the issue and trying to come forward a little bit too much at the beginning, but he stayed back and went into that beast mode. Nick stayed focused and played a heck of a third set."
Duke returns to action Friday with a 6 p.m. match against No. 24 Arizona State.
Duke 4, Elon 3
January 12, 2019 at Durham, N.C. (Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center)
1. Felipe Sarrasague/Taylor Foote (ELON) def. Nick Stachowiak/Spencer Furman (DU) 6-4
2. Jason Lapidus/Sean Sculley (DU) def. Felipe Osses-Konig/Mario Paccini (ELON) 6-4
3. Kyle Frankel/Camilo Ponce (ELON) def. Catalin Mateas/Vincent Lin (DU) 6-1
1. Nick Stachowiak (DU) def. Felipe Sarrasague (ELON) 3-6, 6-3, 6-0
2. Spencer Furman (DU) def. Mario Paccini (ELON) 6-3, 6-1
3. Sean Sculley (DU) def. Dino Bonetta (ELON) 6-0, 6-2
4. Catalin Mateas (DU) def. Kyle Frankel (ELON) 7-5, 6-2
5. Felipe Osses-Konig (ELON) def. Jason Lapidus (DU) 6-2, 6-1
6. Camilo Ponce (ELON) def. Samir Agadi (DU) 6-3, 6-2
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (5,3,2,6,4,1)