DURHAM, N.C. – Returning home for the first time since February 25, the Duke men’s tennis team faced a stiff test from No. 2 Wake Forest with the Demon Deacons coming away with a 5-2 victory Sunday at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. The No. 43 Blue Devils were led by freshman Spencer Furman, who earned the highest-ranked win of his career, upsetting No. 5 Skander Mansouri in three sets. Senior TJ Pura also picked up his second win of the week.
The Blue Devils (8-5, 1-2 ACC) were facing their second top-five foe in five days after taking on No. 5 North Carolina on Tuesday in Chapel Hill. It was the first time Duke had faced consecutive top-five opponents since February 16-17, 2013, at the ITA National Indoors in Seattle, against No. 1 Virginia and No. 5 Pepperdine.
“Overall I was happy with doubles,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “I thought we played a really good doubles point. The energy and aggressiveness was great. I thought we set a good tone with the doubles. I’m very pleased with how we finished the singles with Spencer getting a huge win against a top-five in the country player.”
A closely contested doubles point came down to the very end, with all three courts ending in 6-4 decisions. The Demon Deacons recorded wins on courts one and two for the victory. On court two, Wake Forest’s Borna Gojo and Alan Gadjiev downed sophomores Ryan Dickerson and Jason Lapidus. The set was tied at the first three points before the Demon Deacons got a break and hold to go up 5-3. Duke got a game back on its serve, but Wake Forest served out for the victory. Dickerson and Lapidus fall to 3-2 overall, all in dual matches.
Duke evened the doubles at one decision each with a win from sophomore Catalin Mateas and Pura against Petros Chrysochos and Dennis Uspensky on court three. Much like court two, the match was tied after points one, two and three, but it was the Blue Devils gaining the break and hold to take a 5-3 advantage. Wake held on its game, but Pura served out the Duke win. Mateas and Pura improve to 2-1, all against dual competition.
Focus shifted to court one, where Furman and classmate Nick Stachowiak suffered their first setback of the year, falling to the No. 2 team in the country of Mansouri and Christian Seraphim. As on the other two courts, the set was even through the first three points with Wake Forest breaking and holding to grasp a 5-3 lead. Stachowiak held on his serve to make it 5-4, but the Demon Deacons took the last game. Furman and Stachowiak are now 13-1 and 8-1 in dual matches.
“On court one, our freshmen played a great match against Seraphim and Mansouri,” Smith said. “We had a couple no-ad points that we didn’t get on their serve. These doubles come down to just a point or two.”
In singles, Wake Forest picked up two quick wins to go up 3-0 with triumphs on courts one and two. In the No. 1 position, Chrysochos, ranked No. 2 in the country this week, downed Mateas 6-2, 6-2. Mateas trailed 3-2 in the opening set before Chrysochos rattled off seven straight games to take control of the match. Court two had No. 76 Gojo defeat No. 94 Stachowiak 6-4, 6-0. The opening set between the two was tied at the first four points, but Gojo went on an eight-game run to end the match. Mateas dips to 16-11 overall and 5-6 in dual matches while Stachowiak is 25-6 and 11-2 in dual action. Both are 1-2 versus ACC foes.
Duke got its first point from Pura, who finished the week 2-0 on court four with a 6-2, 6-3 victory against Uspensky. Pura trailed 2-0 in the first set before winning six straight games. The second set had Uspensky turn a 1-1 tie into a 3-1 lead, only to have Pura win the last five games to capture the match. Pura improves his overall record to 20-8 and 9-2 in dual matches.
“TJ just kept doing what he’s been doing,” Smith noted. “He plays with so much heart and intensity. He is playing really good tennis right now, also.”
Clinching the match for the Demon Deacons was No. 37 Seraphim on court five, where he topped Dickerson 6-3, 6-4. In the first set, Dickerson broke to take a 2-1 lead, but Seraphim took the next four games to lead 5-2. Dickerson held on his serve, but Seraphim held to end the set. Seraphim led the entire second set with Dickerson getting to within a game four times, but never being able to force a tie. Dickerson drops to 12-5 overall and 5-2 in dual matches.
Wake Forest made it a 5-1 lead with a point in the sixth position, where Gadjiev fought off Lapidus 6-3, 7-6 (5). Gadjiev went on a three-game stretch in the first set to change a 1-1 tie into a 4-1 lead. Lapidus held on his two service games, but so did Gadjiev to end the set. In the second set, Lapidus came back from 3-1 and 4-2 deficits to take a 5-4 lead. The two exchanged service games and headed to the tiebreaker. There, Gadjiev again led 3-1 and 4-2, but Lapidus forced ties at 4-4 and 5-5. Gadjiev answered with the final two points for the win. Lapidus slips to 1-7 overall and 1-3 against dual competition.
“Jason Lapidus did a great job at No. 6,” Smith said. “He has very limited singles experience, but it seems he’s getting exponentially better with each match. He just needs to stay positive and keep working because he’s really getting better.”
Duke registered the final point of the match in a three-set affair on court three, where Furman came back for an upset of No. 5 Mansouri, 5-7, 6-4, 1-0 (6). In the opening set, Mansouri won three consecutive games to go from a 1-1 tie to a 4-1 lead. He led 5-2 before Furman went on a hold-break-hold series to even the set. Mansouri answered with a hold and break to end the set. The second set had Furman lead 2-0 and 3-1, but Mansouri rallied to even the action at 3-3. From there, Furman won three of the final four games to force a best-to-10 tiebreaker of a third set. Furman hopped out to a 4-0 advantage in the tiebreaker and led 5-1 before Mansouri took three straight to trail 5-4. Furman answered with three straight to go up 8-4. The two exchanged the final four points with Furman earning the highest-ranked win of his career. Furman ups his overall mark to 16-4 and is 10-3 in dual competition, 2-1 versus ACC opponents.
“Spencer competed amazingly well,” Smith added. “He had lost a couple super tiebreakers in three-set matches earlier this year. That was big for him to get that one.”
Duke next heads west for a 5:30 p.m. spring break match at No. 13 UCLA on Thursday. The contest will be Duke’s fifth on the road against a top-20 club.
No. 2 Wake Forest 2, No. 43 Duke 2
March 12, 2017 at Durham, N.C. (Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center)
1. #2 Skander Mansouri/Christian Seraphim (WF) def. Nick Stachowiak/Spencer Furman (DU) 6-4
2. Borna Gojo/Alan Gadjiev (WF) def. Ryan Dickerson/Jason Lapidus (DU) 6-4
3. Catalin Mateas/TJ Pura (DU) def. Petros Chrysochos/Dennis Uspensky (WF) 6-4
1. #2 Petros Chrysochos (WF) def. Catalin Mateas (DU) 6-2, 6-2
2. #76 Borna Gojo (WF) def. #94 Nick Stachowiak (DU) 6-4, 6-0
3. Spencer Furman (DU) def. #5 Skander Mansouri (WF) 5-7, 6-4, 1-0 (10-6)
4. TJ Pura (DU) def. Dennis Uspensky (WF) 6-2, 6-3
5. #37 Christian Seraphim (WF) def. Ryan Dickerson (DU) 6-3, 6-4
6. Alan Gadjiev (WF) def. Jason Lapidus (DU) 6-3, 7-6 (7-5)
Wake Forest 13-1, 2-0 ACC; National ranking #2
Duke 8-5, 1-2 ACC; National ranking #43
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (1,2,4,5,6,3)
Official: Reliford Sanders T-2:32 A-302