DURHAM, N.C. – For the second time this season, the Duke men’s tennis team will head west, this time going to Los Angeles for a 5:30 p.m. Thursday match at No. 10 UCLA. The Blue Devils opened the spring portion of the schedule with a weeklong trip to Hawai’i.
Thursday’s match will be the Blue Devils’ fifth on the road against a top-20 club and their third-straight contest versus a top-10 opponent. The tilt will also be Duke’s last of the regular season against a nonconference opponent.
UCLA Series History
The Bruins own a 15-3 advantage in the all-time series that began in 1985 … The clubs have not met since UCLA eliminated Duke from the 2013 NCAA Championship with a 4-0 victory in the quarterfinals … The Blue Devils’ last win was a 4-2 triumph February 17, 2012, in the opening round of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship … The teams have played eight matches in Los Angeles, with the Bruins going 7-1 … Duke’s true road victory was a 4-3 decision March 10, 2004.
Scouting the Bruins
UCLA enters Thursday’s match fresh off a 4-0 blanking of No. 9 Baylor last Saturday … The squad has two singles players ranked within the top 45 and is led by senior Gage Brymer, who is ranked No. 11, with a 18-7 overall record … Brymer has alternated between the top two courts, going 4-2 on court one and 3-1 on court two … He is 9-6 against ranked opponents … No. 42 Martin Redlicki, a junior, has primarily filled the No. 2 position, owning a 17-6 overall mark, 9-0 ledger in the second slot and 5-5 record versus ranked foes … Freshman Evan Zhu has played all of his dual matches on court three, posted a 4-6 mark there and 7-7 overall record … In doubles, Redlicki and Zhu are ranked No. 26 and own an 11-3 overall record with a 9-2 mark at No. 1 … Senior Joseph Di Giulio and junior Austin Rapp have gone 3-3 at No. 2 while Brymer and sophomore Maxime Creesy are 3-1 on court three.
Three Consecutive Top-10 Foes
Thursday’s match completes a string of three consecutive matches versus top-10 opponents for the Blue Devils, who took on No. 5 North Carolina and No. 2 Wake Forest before the 10th-ranked Bruins … It is the first time Duke has played three-straight contests versus top-10 foes since February 15-17, 2013, at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Seattle against No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 1 Virginia and No. 5 Pepperdine.
Five with 15 or More Wins
After Sunday’s results against Wake Forest, Duke is up to five players with 15 or more singles victories … A year ago, the Blue Devils had just three reach the 15-win plateau … During the 2014-15 campaign, Duke had six reach 15 or more singles triumphs … The Blue Devils are close to adding a sixth member to this year’s club as sophomore Ryan Dickerson owns 12 wins.
Pura Rolling Along
Senior TJ Pura has played some of his best tennis this season … He is off to a 3-0 start in ACC play, owns a 20-8 overall record and is 9-2 in dual matches … Pura’s only two dual-match losses have come in super-tiebreaker third sets, against Enzo Wallart of Kentucky on January 20 and Max Benaim of Charlotte on February 25 … Pura’s 6-2, 6-3 win versus Dennis Uspensky of Wake Forest on Sunday gave him 20 or more victories for the third season of his career.
“He has so much pride for the program and Duke,” head coach Ramsey Smith said of Pura. “He is such a fighter. He is not always playing his best tennis, but he has willed his way to wins. That energy is huge in the dual-match environment; it’s contagious. It’s great. I’m really excited to see him playing this well during his senior year.”
Furman Tallies Top-Five Victory
Freshman Spencer Furman tallied the highest-ranked win of his career Sunday against No. 5 Skander Mansouri of Wake Forest, coming back for a 5-7, 6-4, 1-0 (6) victory on court three … Furman, who was playing just his fourth career match on court three, was also facing his first ranked opponent … The victory was Duke’s first in singles against a top-five opponent since junior Nicolas Alvarez defeated No. 4 Julian Lenz of Baylor 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 during the first round of the Oracle/ITA Masters on September 18 in Malibu, Calif. … It was the Blue Devils’ highest in a dual match since Henrique Cunha topped No. 5 Anthony Rossi of Kentucky, 7-5, 6-4, on May 16, 2013.
“It’s a huge boost,” Smith said of Furman’s victory. “He has had an incredible freshman year so far. He hasn’t had opportunities against any of the top, top guys yet. Mansouri cruised through the [ITA] regional [in the fall] and is the top player in the region. Indoors is his best surface. Spencer has worked extremely hard. He’s practicing at 6:30 a.m. a couple days a week just to get in some extra work. He feels like he deserves to be able to break through in those matches. You can’t substitute big wins. Those are shots of adrenaline to his confidence. That’s going to help him through the rest of the season for sure.”
Stachowiak Nearing the Duke Record Charts
Freshman Nick Stachowiak owns 21 overall doubles wins this season, two shy of a spot on the Duke freshman top-10 chart … Stachowiak’s 25 singles wins are five away from a place on the Blue Devil freshman top-10 list.
Blue Devils in the ITA Rankings
The Oracle/ITA team rankings updated on Tuesday with Duke falling out of the rankings … The singles and doubles rankings remained unchanged, keeping Alvarez at No. 17 and Stachowiak at No. 94 … Stachowiak earned his only other career ranking February 8, at No. 116.
Last Time Out
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 … A closely contested doubles point came down to the very end, with all three courts ending in 6-4 decisions … On court two, Wake Forest’s Borna Gojo and Alan Gadjiev downed Dickerson and sophomore Jason Lapidus … Duke evened the doubles at one decision each with a win from sophomore Catalin Mateas and Pura against Petros Chrysochos and Uspensky on court three … Focus shifted to court one, where Furman and Stachowiak suffered their first setback of the year, falling to the No. 2 team in the country of Mansouri and Christian Seraphim … In singles, Wake Forest picked up two quick wins to go up 3-0 … In the No. 1 position, Chrysochos, ranked No. 2 in the country this week, downed Mateas 6-2, 6-2 … Court two had No. 76 Gojo defeat No. 94 Stachowiak 6-4, 6-0 … Duke got its first point from Pura, who earned a 6-2, 6-3 victory against Uspensky … Clinching the match for the Demon Deacons was No. 37 Seraphim on court five, where he topped Dickerson 6-3, 6-4 … 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) … Duke registered the final point of the match in a three-set affair on court three, where Furman came back for the upset of No. 5 Mansouri.
Duke returns to conference play next week with a trio of matches, starting with a 4 p.m. home tilt against N.C. State next Wednesday … The Blue Devils then welcome Boston College to town for a 12 noon Friday contest and travel to No. 3 Virginia on Sunday, March 26, for a 1 p.m. match.