DURHAM, N.C. – The next segment of the season begins Saturday for the Duke men’s tennis team as it kicks off ACC action at Virginia Tech with a 1 p.m. match. The Blue Devils, ranked 43rd this week, are riding a four-match winning streak and are 7-3 this season while the Hokies stand at 4-5 overall.
Duke is looking for its first road win after losing a trio of matches to top-20 opponents, falling 5-2 at No. 15 Kentucky, 4-3 at No. 17 Illinois and 4-2 at No. 9 Northwestern.
Virginia Tech Series History
Saturday will mark the 31st meeting with Duke holding a commanding 26-4 advantage in the series that began in 1927 … The teams have met annually since the spring of 2005, Virginia Tech’s first season in the ACC … Duke’s seven match winning streak against the Hokies came to an end in 2015, as Virginia Tech downed the Blue Devils 6-1 in Duke’s first ACC match of the campaign … Last spring, the Hokies registered a 5-2 win March 25 in Durham … The Blue Devils have won three of the four meetings in Blacksburg … In singles during their dual match careers, Nicolas Alvarez and Catalin Mateas are 0-1 while TJ Pura is 1-2 versus the Hokies.
Scouting the Hokies
Virginia Tech is led by senior Jai Corbett, who is 3-1 at No. 1 this spring and ranked No. 49 in the latest Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll … Freshman Alexandre Ribeiro has been on court two most often, going 2-2 there … Sophomore Mitch Harper is 2-2 at No. 3 and has won his only decision on court one … Freshman Henrik Korsgaard, ranked No. 97, has picked up just two decisions in dual matches, posting a 2-0 record on court four … Corbett and freshman Abraham Asaba have filled the top position in doubles, going 2-2 … Korsgaard and sophomore Jason Kros have been the tandem on court three, playing to a 3-1 record there.
“It’s exciting,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “Starting conference play is like a fresh part of the season. Everyone starts 0-0 in conference. Even Virginia, who has been the top team in the country, is 0-0 overall in the ACC. We’re all even to begin with. We’re really fighting for position throughout the regular season to go into the ACC Tournament. Our conference is so loaded with so many top teams that we have a lot of great opportunities. It’s definitely an exciting part of the season for us.
“We’ve been playing pretty well all year,” Smith continued. “We had three tough matches on the road against top teams that were really close. We were a couple points away from winning. We have had a really good rhythm in doubles the last four matches. We’ve been really solid at all positions in singles, so that has helped us a lot.”
Duke heads into Saturday’s match having won seven of its last nine, 17 of its last 20 and 21 of its last 25 ACC openers … The Blue Devils had their streak of seven league-opening victories snapped in 2015 with the 6-1 setback at Virginia Tech … Smith is 6-2 as Duke’s head coach in ACC openers … The Blue Devils have opened the league campaign against Virginia Tech just once previously, in 2015.
Three Straight Clinchers for Dickerson
Duke sophomore Ryan Dickerson has played a key role in Duke’s four-match winning streak, providing the clinching singles victory in the first three decisions of the streak … Dickerson clinched three matches last season, against Coastal Carolina, Louisville and N.C. Central … Dickerson’s three straight wins clinched are the most by a Blue Devil since Alvarez’s three straight in 2016 against Tennessee (February 5), North Carolina A&T (February 20) and Charlotte (February 20).
Not Many Points for Opponents
The Blue Devils enter Saturday’s match having allowed just one point in their last four matches … Duke has not had such a successful streak since February 20-27, 2016, when shutting out North Carolina A&T, Charlotte and Coastal Carolina and topping Furman 6-1.
What to Watch For
Freshman Nick Stachowiak has begun his career with 10 consecutive dual match wins, the longest by a rookie since Pura ripped off 10 consecutive in 2014 … Overall, Stachowiak’s 13 match winning streak is the longest for the Blue Devils since Pura’s run of 14 consecutive decisions from November 1, 2013 – April 25, 2014 … Stachowiak and classmate Spencer Furman have been strong in doubles, posting a 12-0 record and 7-0 mark in dual matches … The duo’s 12-match winning streak is the longest for a Duke pair since Henrique Cunha and Raphael Hemmeler won 16 straight from March 5 – May 16, 2013 … Furman (five), Dickerson (six) and Stachowiak all enter Saturday’s action with singles winning streaks of five or more matches.
Points from Positions 4-6
Duke has gone 9-1 at No. 4 singles, 7-2 at No. 5 and 8-1 at No. 6 … Furman is 4-1 in the fourth slot while Stachowiak is 4-0 and Pura 1-0 … Leading the way at No. 5 is Furman at 3-1 with Stachowiak 2-0, Dickerson 1-0 and Pura 1-1 … Dickerson is 3-0 at No. 6, Pura 4-1 and sophomore Jason Lapidus 1-0 … Since the beginning of the 2012 spring campaign, the Blue Devils are a combined 105-34 (.755 winning percentage) at No. 4, 106-36 (.746 winning percentage) at No. 5 and 106-34 (.757 winning percentage) at No. 6.
Blue Devils in the ITA Rankings
The Oracle/ITA rankings did not have an update in singles and doubles, leaving Alvarez as the Blue Devils’ lone representative, checking in at No. 14 in singles … Duke is No. 43 in the team rankings after being 36th last week.
Last Time Out
Duke picked up a doubleheader sweep last Saturday, downing Coastal Carolina 7-0 and Charlotte 6-1 … Against Charlotte, Duke earned the doubles point with victories from courts one and two. Furman and Stachowiak cruised past Sam Rice and Leonardo Menezes 6-1 on court one … Mateas and Levine picked up the second doubles win, downing Oriol Puig Forne and Alejandro Garcia Moreno 6-2 on court two … In singles, Stachowiak was quickly off court two with a 6-1, 6-2 victory against Menezes to give Duke a 2-0 lead … Extending the Blue Devil advantage to 3-0 was Dickerson at No. 6 as he topped Jensen Martin 6-0, 6-1 … Clinching his first career match was freshman Robert Levine on court three as he topped Garcia Moreno 6-2, 6-3 … Duke upped its lead to 5-0 on court one, where Mateas defeated Rice 7-6 (4), 6-1 … The sixth point for Duke came at No. 4, as Furman downed Puig Forne 6-4, 7-5 … Charlotte tallied the final point of the match as Max Benaim defeated Pura 5-7, 6-4, 1-0 (5) on court five.
Duke travels down the road to Chapel Hill for a 3 p.m. Tuesday match with No. 6 North Carolina.