The Blue Devils are coming off of a strong showing at home last weekend, going 3-0 with wins over then-No. 19 Illinois, No. 30 Notre Dame and NC Central.
The team swept the Fighting Illini on Feb. 3, 7-0, for the program's first win over Illinois since 2002. The match, played in front of a large crowd in the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center, was highlighted by victories on all three courts in doubles and seventh-ranked Henrique Cunha's upset of No. 2 Dennis Nevolo at the No. 1 singles spot. In last Sunday's doubleheader, Duke downed Notre Dame, 6-1, and defeated NC Central by a 7-0 margin.
Cunha improved to 5-0 on the spring and 19-4 overall in singles play to earn ACC Player of the Week and Ronald McDonald House Charities Duke Student-Athlete of the Week honors. Seventeenth-ranked Chris Mengel owns a 5-0 ledger at the No. 2 slot in the lineup, while rookie Raphael Hemmeler is also undefeated on the spring at 4-0 and has yet to surrender a set in dual match singles play.
In doubles, the tandem of Cunha and sophomore Fred Saba have compiled a 3-0 record this spring from the No. 1 position, while senior Torsten Wietoska and Hemmeler are 4-0 at the No. 3 spot. The duo of senior David Holland and Mengel have gone 4-2 overall this spring, including a 3-1 mark at No. 2 doubles.
Tennessee enters Saturday's match with a 4-2 record after falling to Illinois, 4-1, on Feb. 5 in Knoxville. Like Duke, the Volunteers have qualified for the 2012 ITA National Team Indoor Championships Feb. 17-20 in Charlottesville, Va. The team's lineup features three players ranked among the top 125 in the country in singles - No. 117 Peter Nagovnak, No. 119 Hunter Reese and No. 125 Mikelis Libietis. Libietis and Reese also comprise the No. 33 doubles pair in the ITA rankings.
Duke and Tennessee will meet for the 18th time in program history, with the Volunteers leading the series, 11-6. Tennessee has won three consecutive matchups between the squads, including a 7-0 victory over the Blue Devils last season in Durham and a 4-2 decision just a few days later in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence right now," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "[Tennessee] is very tough at their place. It's a tough SEC environment, so we're expecting a battle."