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Henrique Cunha and Fred Saba comprise the 15th-ranked doubles tandem in the nation.
Courtesy: Duke Photography
Henrique Cunha and Fred Saba comprise the 15th-ranked doubles tandem in the nation.
Blue Devils Set to Host Pair of Top-15 Teams
Saturday 03/08/2012  -  Duke Sports Information
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DURHAM, N.C. - The fifth-ranked Duke men's tennis team returns to Durham this weekend for a pair of important matchups against two top-15 squads. The Blue Devils will host No. 15 Pepperdine Friday, March 9 at 1 p.m. and face off against No. 8 California on Sunday, March 11 at 12 p.m.

Last weekend's action saw Duke improve to 10-1 with a victory on the road at VCU. The squad topped the 36th-ranked Rams by a 5-2 margin for its second win over VCU this season. The Blue Devils swept all three doubles matches and posted victories on courts one, three, five and six in singles play.

Junior Henrique Cunha - ranked second in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's singles poll - picked up his sixth Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Tennis Player of the Week honor this season after downing 89th-ranked Max Wennakoski of the Rams, 6-0, 6-0, in the No. 1 matchup. Cunha remains unbeaten on the season in dual match singles play with a 9-0 ledger and has registered a team-best 23 singles victories overall. Senior Torsten Wietoska contributed a three-set victory from the No. 3 spot in the lineup, and rookies Jason Tahir and Raphael Hemmeler added wins on courts six and five to secure the victory for Duke.

Fifteenth-ranked Pepperdine heads to Durham with a 6-6 ledger after collecting a pair of 4-3 wins on the road against No. 22 Tulsa and No. 35 Oklahoma. The Waves earned a bid to the 2012 ITA Men's National Team Indoor Championships last month in Charlottesville, Va., where they defeated Tennessee but fell to Florida and California. Pepperdine's lineup features four players ranked in the top 120 in the nation, led by Sebastian Fanselow at No. 18. Fanselow is joined in the ITA rankings by No. 26 Finn Tearney, No. 96 Mousheg Hovhannisyan and No. 120 Alex Llompart. Llompart and Tearney also comprise the fourth-ranked doubles tandem in the country.

Duke and Pepperdine will square off for the 15th time in program history with the Waves leading the all-time series, 9-5. In last season's meeting in Malibu, Pepperdine came away with a hard-fought 4-3 victory over the Blue Devils.

Sunday's match will be a showdown between two top-10 teams, as eighth-ranked California will test its 7-5 record against the Blue Devils. The Golden Bears are coming off of two consecutive wins against Baylor and San Diego, and will take on Pepperdine Saturday in Durham before playing Duke on Sunday. Carlos Cueto headlines Cal's singles lineup as the 39th-ranked player in the nation, followed by No. 40 Ben McLachlan and No. 94 Nick Andrews. The Golden Bears also boast two ranked doubles pairs in No. 5 Christoffer Konigsfeldt and Andrews and No. 51 Cueto and Ben McLachlan.

California has won six of the seven meetings between the two schools, including a 4-3 victory last year on the West Coast. The Blue Devils' only win in the series came in the second round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament.

The matches against Pepperdine and California will close out the Blue Devils' non-conference slate, as they travel to play ACC opponents NC State and Wake Forest next weekend.

Live scoring, live video and a live blog will be available for this weekend's action.

-d-u-k-e-


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