DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke men’s tennis team returned home and returned to the win column Friday with a 6-1 victory against Michigan State at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. Freshman Spencer Furman clinched his first career match as the Blue Devils (2-1) dropped just two sets to the Spartans (2-2).
The Blue Devils won for the eighth time in nine meetings with Michigan State and improved to 2-0 at home this season. Duke has won 32 of its last 39 home indoor matches.
“That was a solid win,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “We made some improvements from our last match at Kentucky. It was nice to win all three double matches for the first time this dual season. That set a nice tone. Singles, we played solid. I thought we did a good job playing better as the matches went on. Overall, that was a convincing win. We’re excited to get back out there tomorrow.”
For the second straight match, Duke took an early 1-0 lead by winning the doubles point, this time sweeping all three matches. Putting away the first victory early were sophomore Jason Lapidus and freshman Robert Levine with a 6-2 triumph against Brett Forman and Alexander Kim on court three. With the set even at 1-1, the Blue Devil duo took control with a break and hold to go up 3-1. Michigan State got a game back for a 3-2 deficit, but Duke ran off the last three games for the win. Lapidus and Levine are now 1-1 overall and 1-0 in dual matches.
“Jason and I have been practicing a lot of doubles the last three days,” Levine said. “We kind of executed exactly what we had been doing in practice. We got off the court first on [court] three, which was good. I think it gave the other teams some confidence.”
The Blue Devils secured the point on court one, where sophomores Catalin Mateas and Vincent Lin defeated Colin Harvey and Michael Dube, 6-3. Duke jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Spartans took two games to close within 3-2. Duke answered with two more wins to go up 5-2. Michigan State broke and closed the gap to 5-3, but the Blue Devils broke in the final game for the set. Mateas and Lin improve to 6-4 and 2-1 in dual matches with the triumph.
Duke capped the sweep with freshmen Furman and Nick Stachowiak improving to 8-0 overall and 3-0 in dual matches. The two defeated Doug Francken and Billy Shisler 6-5 (6) on court two to complete the doubles point. The pairs exchanged breaks at 1-1 and 2-1 and remained within a game of each other throughout the match. With the doubles point already determined, the squads went to the tiebreaker at 5-5. Michigan State looked to be in control of the tiebreaker taking leads of 4-2 and 5-3 before Duke rallied. The Blue Devils ripped off three straight points to go up 6-5 in the tiebreaker. The Spartans answered to even the tiebreaker at 6-6 before Duke won the final two points.
In singles, Duke made it a two-point lead as Levine quickly secured a 6-2, 6-0 victory against Jasper Koenen on court three. Levine turned a 2-2 tie in the opening set into 10 consecutive victories to win the match. Levine ups his overall mark to 14-8 and is now 2-1 in dual matches.
“I was trying to make it a very physical match and use my physicality,” Levine said. “I have to give a lot of credit to [associate head coach Jonathan] Stokke, who really came up with an awesome game plan that worked. I’ve been putting in a ton of work with him in practice the last two weeks. That work is showing in the matches. It was great to get off first.”
The Blue Devils made it 3-0 as Stachowiak won his sixth straight match with a 6-2, 6-2 victory against Kim on court four. With the opening set even at 1-1, Stachowiak won three straight to take control at 4-1 and hold on for the win. In the second set, Stachowiak broke at 1-1 and this time ran off four straight to make it a 5-1 advantage before winning. Stachowiak improves to a team-best 17-4 overall and is the lone Blue Devil unbeaten in dual match play at 3-0.
“Nick is continuing to play great,” Smith said. “He bumped up one spot in the lineup today and played another really solid match today. He’s playing with a lot of confidence and continuing to get better and better. I’m excited with where he is right now.”
Seconds later, Duke took a 4-0 lead and clinched as Furman downed Ivan Rakic 6-3, 6-0 on court five. After playing even through the first six games of the match, Furman broke and won the final nine games to take the match. Furman lifts his record to 8-2 overall and 2-1 in dual matches.
“Spencer came through in some clutch moments in doubles and really got rolling in singles,” Smith said. “He played some great tennis towards the end of his match.”
The Blue Devils pushed the advantage to 5-0 with Lin taking a 6-3, 6-2 decision from Dube on court two. The two were even at 2-2 in the opening set before a Lin hold-break-hold gave him control at 5-2. Dube got one game back, but Lin held on his serve for the victory. The second set had Lin hop out to 2-0 and 5-1 leads before closing the set. Lin is now 7-5 this year and 2-1 in dual matches.
Capturing the sixth point for Duke was senior TJ Pura on court six with a 6-4, 6-2 win against Shisler. Pura turned a 2-2 tie in the first set into a 4-2 advantage with a break and hold. Shisler never got closer than one game the rest of the set. Pura again turned the tide in his favor in the second set, making a 1-1 tie a 5-1 lead before closing out the match. Pura lifts his overall record to 13-7 and dual match mark to 2-1.
Michigan State picked up its point in the final match of the day as Forman downed Mateas 7-5, 7-6 (3) on court one. Mateas trailed 3-1 in the opening set before winning four straight to take a 5-3 lead. Forman had the answer with his own four-game run to take the first set. In the second set, the two were even at 2-2 before Forman held and broke to go up 4-2. Mateas returned the favor with a break and hold to retie the score at 4-4. Forman again had the answer with a hold, but Mateas rallied again with a hold and break to go ahead 6-5. Forman responded with a break to even the set at 6-6 and force a tiebreaker. In the breaker, the two kept the closeness of the match going with an even score up to 3-3, when Forman took four consecutive points for the win. Mateas drops to 12-7 and 1-2 in dual matches.
Duke finishes the weekend Saturday with a 6 p.m. home match against VCU.
Duke 6, Michigan State 1
January 27, 2017 at Durham, N.C. (Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center)
1. Catalin Mateas/Vincent Lin (DU) def. Colin Harvey/Michael Dube (MSU) 6-3
2. Nick Stachowiak/Spencer Furman (DU) def. Doug Francken/Billy Shisler (MSU) 6-5 (8-6)
3. Robert Levine/Jason Lapidus (DU) def. Brett Forman/Alexander Kim (MSU) 6-2
1. Brett Forman (MSU) def. Catalin Mateas (DU) 7-5, 7-6 (7-3)
2. Vincent Lin (DU) def. Michael Dube (MSU) 6-3, 6-2
3. Robert Levine (DU) def. Jasper Koenen (MSU) 6-2, 6-0
4. Nick Stachowiak (DU) def. Alexander Kim (MSU) 6-2, 6-2
5. Spencer Furman (DU) def. Ivan Rakic (MSU) 6-3, 6-0
6. TJ Pura (DU) def. Billy Shisler (MSU) 6-4, 6-2
Michigan State: 2-2
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (3,4,5,2,6,1)
Official: Lynne Allen T-2:48 A-503