DURHAM, N.C. - Junior Reid Carleton trailed 5-2 in a third set tiebreaker with the match tied at 3-3 on Tuesday before rattling off five straight points to give No. 14 Duke a 4-3 victory over No. 19 North Carolina on Senior Day at Ambler Tennis Stadium.
"I told the guys that I have been involved with college tennis for a long time and that was the most amazing finish I have been a part of," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "I thought both teams competed unbelievably well and I give a lot of credit to North Carolina. We fought and hung in there until the end. I am proud of our guys."
Carleton had a tough road to get to the third set tiebreaker against No. 53 Jose Hernandez. He was down 4-1 earlier in the set before getting a break to make it 4-2. He then faced several break points for Hernandez to go up 5-2, but kept battling back and after a long game cut the lead to 4-3. With the score 5-4, Hernandez was serving and went up 30-love before rain started to fall. After a brief delay, the match was moved indoors to Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. Two points away from defeat, Carleton buckled down and extended the match with a break. He then held serve to take a 6-5 lead before Hernandez forced a deciding tiebreaker.
""That was a big game to make it 4-3," said Carleton. "We played a lot of long games in this match but that might have been the most important. He had a bunch of break points to make it 5-2 and that probably would have been the end of the match so it was a huge game for me."
The story of the day for the Blue Devils was their no-quit attitude as they came back from several deficits, including Carleton's strong finish. Duke lost the doubles point to trail 1-0 in the match after Carleton and Henrique Cunha fell to No. 27 Clay Donato and Stefan Hardy in their first match as the No. 1 doubles team in the country. The loss ended a 15-match winning streak for the two Blue Devils, who suffered just their fifth loss in 38 matches this season.
Cunha also was able to bounce back from the doubles loss to help keep Duke alive in the match. North Carolina led 3-2 when Cunha rallied from a first set tiebreaker loss for a three-set win over No. 46 Donato, 6-7 (7-9), 6-3, 6-2. Cunha stayed undefeated in ACC play at 6-0 and has now won 13 straight singles contests. He is 28-5 overall on the season in singles.
The two players at the bottom of the lineup came up big early in singles for the Blue Devils. Junior Jared Pinsky rolled over Zach Hunter at No. 5 in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 to improve to 4-0 in league play and 14-6 overall. Luke Marchese was down 5-4 in his second set before taking three straight games to close out his straight-set win against Andrew Crone 6-2, 7-5. Marchese is a perfect 9-0 in ACC matches this season and has won 11 straight singles contests.
The win sends Duke's three seniors, Dylan Arnould, Aaron Carpenter and David Lue out on a win in their final regular season home match as Blue Devils. The three seniors were honored prior to Tuesday's match.
"It was the most amazing match I have been a part of in my four years," said Arnould. "I couldn't ask for a better ending."
With the win Duke improves to 8-1 in the ACC and 15-6 overall. The Blue Devils close the gap in the Carlyle Cup standings, now trailing 12-8.5. The Carlyle Cup is an annual all sports competition between Duke and North Carolina. The Tar Heels are now 16-5 on the year and fall to 6-3 in the conference.
The Blue Devils will close out the regular season this weekend with trips to Miami on Friday and Tallahasse, Fla. on Sunday.
Tennis Match Results
North Carolina vs Duke
April 13, 2010 at Durham, N.C.
#14 Duke 4, #19 North Carolina 3
1. #27 Clay Donato/Stefan Hardy (UNC) def. #1 Reid Carleton/Henrique Cunha (Duke) 9-7
2. Cameron Ahari/Brennan Boyajian (UNC) def. #64 Dylan Arnould/David Holland (Duke) 8-6
3. Alain Michel/Torsten Wietoska (Duke) def. Andrew Crone/Jose Hernandez (UNC) 9-7
1. #3 Henrique Cunha (Duke) def. #46 Clay Donato (UNC) 6-7 (7-9), 6-3, 6-2
2. #86 Reid Carleton (Duke) def. #53 Jose Hernandez (UNC) 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5)
3. #116 Stefan Hardy (UNC) def. #104 Dylan Arnould (Duke) 7-6 (7-2), 6-2
4. #85 Brennan Boyajian (UNC) def. Torsten Wietoska (Duke) 7-6 (7-5), 6-2
5. Jared Pinsky (Duke) def. Zach Hunter (UNC) 6-3, 6-2
6. Luke Marchese (Duke) def. Andrew Crone (UNC) 6-2, 7-5
North Carolina 16-5, 6-3 ACC; National ranking #19
Duke 15-6, 8-1 ACC; National ranking #14
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (5,4,6,3,1,2)