"Today was a good test of our resiliency," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "We really stressed that both teams were coming off of a loss, so it was all about who would be able to handle that better."
After dropping the doubles point for just the second time this season in Saturday's quarterfinal loss to top-ranked Southern California, Duke (9-1) rebounded Sunday with a strong start in doubles play. The Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead over Florida with wins on courts one and three.
Junior Henrique Cunha and sophomore Fred Saba, ranked 13th as a doubles tandem in the latest ITA poll, jumped out to a 6-0 lead on their way to an 8-3 upset of No. 9 Nassim Slilam and Billy Federhofer. The win moved Cunha and Saba to 5-2 in dual match play and marked their third win over a ranked doubles pair this season. In the No. 3 doubles contest, senior Torsten Wietoska and freshman Raphael Hemmeler edged 29th-ranked Andrew Butz and Bob van Overbeek by a score of 8-6 to clinch the doubles point for the third time this spring.
Heading into singles play with a 1-0 lead, the Blue Devils kept the momentum going with first-set victories on all six courts. Second-ranked Cunha cruised to a 6-2, 6-0 win over No. 40 van Overbeek in the No. 1 matchup to put Duke ahead by a 2-0 margin. Seventeenth-ranked Mengel followed suit, defeating No. 101 Carleton, 6-4, 6-2. Both Cunha and Mengel remain unbeaten in dual match singles play, with records of 8-0 and 7-0, respectively.
Wietoska secured the 4-0 sweep for the Blue Devils, delivering a 6-4, 6-3 victory over the Gators' Slilam from the No. 3 spot in the lineup. The Duke senior clinched his third match of the season while also collecting his seventh dual match singles win of the year.
Although their matches went unfinished, Saba, Hemmeler and rookie Jason Tahir got off to strong starts on courts four, five and six, with Saba and Tahir both toughing out first-set tiebreak wins.
With Sunday's victory, the Blue Devils conclude the indoor portion of their season with a 9-1 ledger after defeating No. 8 UCLA, 4-2, in Friday's opening round and falling to No. 1 Southern California, 4-0, in Saturday's quarterfinals. Meanwhile, the loss dropped Florida to 6-3 on the season.
"We played three top-eight teams, going 2-1 against them this week," Smith said. "We obviously lost to a tough Southern California team, but ending this tournament with a win sets the tone for the rest of the season. It is good to end the indoor season on a high note."
Duke returns to action on Saturday, March 3 at VCU.
2012 ITA Division I National Men's Team Indoor Championship
Hosted by the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA at the Boar's Head Tennis Club
February 19, 2012
#10 Duke 4, #5 Florida 0
1. #13 Henrique Cunha/Fred Saba (DU) def. #9 Nassim Slilam/Billy Federhofer (UF) 8-3
2. David Holland/Chris Mengel (DU) vs. #14 Tripper Carleton/Spencer Newman (UF) 6-5, unfinished
3. Torsten Wietoska/Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. #29 Andrew Butz/Bob van Overbeek (UF) 8-6
1. #2 Henrique Cunha (DU) def. #40 Bob van Overbeek (UF) 6-2, 6-0
2. #17 Chris Mengel (DU) def. #101 Tripper Carleton (UF) 6-4, 6-2
3. Torsten Wietoska (DU) def. Nassim Slilam (UF) 6-4, 6-3
4. Fred Saba (DU) vs. Florent Diep (UF) 7-6 (7-5), 2-2, unfinished
5. Raphael Hemmeler (DU) vs. #53 Spencer Newman (UF) 7-5, 0-3, unfinished
6. Jason Tahir (DU) vs. Michael Alford (UF) 7-6 (8-6), unfinished
Florida 6-3; National ranking #5
Duke 9-1; National ranking #10
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (1,2,3)