DURHAM, N.C. - Duke took down third-ranked USC, 4-3, this afternoon at the Ambler Tennis Stadium. The Blue Devils beat three ranked singles opponents and Henrique Cunha defeated the No.1 singles player in the nation to propel Duke to victory.
"I'm just so happy for our guys," head coach Ramsey Smith said. "We have actually been playing well; we just haven't been able to get over the hump. I told the guys before the match, 'Why not? Why not win this one?' It is the toughest match of [the current stretch] and against the defending champions. I just felt like we were due. It was a great college tennis match that came down to the No. 1 [singles], fittingly."
Duke's last win over a top-five opponent was a 5-2 win over No. 5 North Carolina on April 11, 2007. It was also the Blue Devil's best win since a 4-1 victory over No. 1 Florida in the ITA National Team Indoors on Feb. 18, 2006.
Cunha took USC's Steve Johnson, the No. 1 player in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, to a tiebreaker and ultimately won the match, 6-4, 7-5 (7-4). It was Cunha's third win over a top-10 opponent this season.
"It was the best player in the country against the best freshman in the country," Smith said. "[Henrique] Cunha just showed unbelievable heart, especially for a freshman. It was an unbelievable effort."
The freshman from Jaú, Brazil, is now 11-3 against ranked players this season, having also defeated No. 2 John-Patrick Smith of Tennessee and No. 7 Dimitar Kutrovsky of Texas.
"I am so happy," Cunha said. "I was playing against the No. 1 player in the country and I knew I had an opportunity to win. I tried not to think too much going into [the tiebreaker]; I was just focused on winning. I thought about the points I had won earlier and to believe in myself."
Securing the doubles point was the third-ranked doubles pair of Cunha and Reid Carleton. The Duke tandem is now 27-4 this season after dispatching the 11th-ranked doubles team of Robert Farah and JT Sundling, 8-6. Down love-30, Duke battled back to win the final match point.
"The doubles were great," Cunha said. "Reid and I are playing very well. We have lost only one match this spring and we are just trying to set the tone for singles."
In singles play, Wietoska won the first match for Duke over 84th-ranked Lucassen of USC, 6-1, 6-3, on court four to put Duke up 2-0 in the team score.
Carleton, tabbed 118th in the latest ITA rankings, fell to 72nd-ranked Poldma of USC, 6-3, 6-1.
Holland won his match over No. 119 J.T. Sundling of USC, 6-2, 6-3. Holland was down 2-3 in the second set but won four consecutive games to put Duke up 3-1 in the overall match. It was the first win over a ranked opponent in Holland's career.
On court three, USC's Nguyen, ranked 89th, won a 7-5, 6-1 match over 76th-ranked Arnould of Duke.
Michel battled back in the second set, but Jason McNaughton of USC won a 6-2, 7-5 match on court six.
The team score was tied at 3-3 as Cunha and Johnson were finishing up their second set.
"We had three guys step up big time," Smith said. "Obviously [Cunha], but David Holland won a big match and Torsten played his best match all year, cruising through his opponent that I think has only lost one match all year. It was exciting, we had a good crowd and I am just happy for the guys."
Duke will return to the courts on March 26 in Boston, Mass. against Harvard and Boston College.
#50 Duke 4, #3 Southern California 3
March 17, 2010 at Durham, N.C. (Ambler Tennis Stadium)
|1. #9 Henrique Cunha (DU) def. #1 Steve Johnson (USC) 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)|
|2. #72 Jaak Poldma (USC) def. #118 Reid Carleton (DU) 6-3, 6-1|
|3. #89 Daniel Nguyen (USC) def. #79 Dylan Arnould (DU) 7-5, 6-1|
|4. Torsten Wietoska (DU) def. #84 Peter Lucassen (USC) 6-1, 6-2|
|5. David Holland (DU) def. #119 JT Sundling (USC) 6-2, 6-3|
|6. Jason McNaughton (USC) def. Alain Michel (DU) 6-2, 7-5|
|1. #3 Henrique Cunha/Reid Carleton (DU) def. Robert Farah/JT Sundling (USC) 8-6|
|2. Steve Johnson/Daniel Nguyen (USC) def. Dylan Arnould/David Holland (DU) 8-6|
|3. #44 Torsten Wietoska/Alain Michel (DU) def. #49 Jaak Poldma/Peter Lucassen (USC) 8-4|
|Southern California 13-1; National ranking #3|
|Duke 5-5; National ranking #50|
|Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (4,2,5,3,6,1)|