DURHAM, N.C. – A strong performance in doubles and from the middle of the singles lineup led the Duke men’s tennis team to a 5-2 victory against N.C. State on Wednesday at Ambler Tennis Stadium. The Blue Devils lost just four games in the two finished doubles matches and picked up singles triumphs on courts two, three, four and five and six to pace the Blue Devil attack.
Senior TJ Pura clinched the match for the Blue Devils, upending Igor Saveljic 6-3, 6-3 on court four while also securing the doubles point on court three via a 6-2 win with partner Catalin Mateas. It was Pura’s second clinching point of the campaign, both in ACC play, as he picked up the fourth point at Virginia Tech on March 4. Sophomore Ryan Dickerson was a winner in singles and doubles.
With the victory, Duke ups its record to 9-6 overall and evens its ACC mark at 2-2. The Blue Devils also improve to 8-1 at home this season. The Wolfpack falls to 9-9 overall and 0-3 against league foes.
“I was very pleased with today,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “It was a very important conference match for us coming off a couple tough top-10 losses. I thought it all started with doubles today. All three teams were tremendous. That just set the tone. We got behind early in a couple singles matches, but were able to come through in the end. It was a full team effort today with all six guys putting points on the board. The two guys who didn’t play really helped out a lot as well. It was a full eight-man effort.”
For the second-straight match, it was doubles wins at No. 2 and No. 3 that gave the Blue Devils the early 1-0 lead. Sophomores Dickerson and Jason Lapidus turned a 1-1 tie into a 4-1 lead against Michael Ogden and Ivan Saveljic on court two. The Wolfpack got a game back for a 4-2 deficit, but Duke won the last two games to end the match. Dickerson and Lapidus improve to 5-2 overall and earn their first ACC win.
“It felt like Jason and I brought the energy from the start,” Dickerson said. “We were very energetic. That helped us get on top early. The energy and positivity got us through the match and it carried over to singles.”
Court three finished the point for the Blue Devils as Pura and sophomore Mateas played the exact same pattern as court two to earn a 6-2 victory versus Igor Saveljic and Georgiy Malyshev. The Duke duo went from 1-1 to 4-1, then 4-2 before finishing the match. Mateas and Pura lift their overall record to 4-1 and 3-1 against ACC competition.
Pushing the lead to 2-0 was Dickerson, who was quickly off the singles court with a 6-1, 6-1 win on court five against Sean Burnette. Dickerson ups his record to 14-5 overall, 7-2 in dual matches and 2-2 in ACC play.
“I just felt like I played well,” Dickerson said. “It didn’t feel like there were a ton of things I was doing wrong. The match result just came to me. I’ve put in a lot of hard work in practice and put hard hours on the court. I’ve definitely matured with my game and have been picking coaches brains a lot more than I used to. That has helped a lot.”
The Blue Devils made it a 3-0 lead from court three, where Stachowiak defeated Malyshev 6-1, 6-2. Stachowiak led 3-0 in the opening set before Malyshev took a game, only to have Stachowiak answer with three more to end the set. The second set was even at 2-2 before Stachowiak won the final four to complete the match. Stachowiak snaps a three-match losing streak to improve to 26-7 and 2-2 versus league opponents.
N.C. State tallied its first point from the first position with No. 87 Horton defeating No. 95 Mateas 6-3, 6-3. Horton took a 3-0 lead in the first set before Mateas answered with consecutive wins for a 3-2 deficit. Horton answered with back-to-back games to push the lead to 5-2 and hold on. The second set started with another 3-0 Horton lead. He pushed the advantage to 4-1 before Mateas rallied with consecutive wins for a 4-3 deficit. Horton answered again with the last two games and match victory. Mateas dips to 17-12 overall and 1-3 in ACC action.
The Wolfpack closed the deficit to 3-2 with an Ogden 7-6 (5), 6-1 triumph over Lapidus on court six. Ogden flipped a 1-1 tie into a 5-2 lead in the first set, but Lapidus rallied to even the set at 5-5. The two went to the tiebreaker, which Lapidus led 4-1. Ogden rallied with four straight points to go up 5-4 in the breaker. Lapidus replied to even the tiebreaker at 5-5, but Ogden took the final two points, and the first four games of the second set en route to the win. Lapidus slips to 1-9 and 0-4 against league foes.
Duke clinched the match with Pura’s victory against Igor Saveljic on court four. Pura and Saveljic were even at 1-1 in the first set before Pura captured four of the next five games to lead 5-2. Saveljic got a game back, but Pura took the last. The second set had Pura lead by a game at 3-2 and 4-3 before ending the match with a hold and break. Pura ups his record to 21-9 and remains undefeated in ACC play at 4-0.
“TJ has been a rock,” Smith added. “He has been so good. It was awesome to see him come through in a big moment for us. He is playing great tennis and been especially good in ACC matches. That was an important and tough second set. To get that match clinched before Spencer finished was big. TJ was awesome from start to finish. He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
Finishing the match was No. 76 Furman on court two with a comeback 1-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory against No. 92 Galarneau. Galarneau breezed through the opening set and led 2-0 and 3-1 in the second set before Furman rallied to take a 4-3 lead in. Galarneau responded with a win to knot the set at 4-4. From there, Furman won the final two games and then the first four games of the third set. Galarneau fought back with three straight games to trail 4-3, but Furman broke to go ahead 5-3. Galarneau responded with back-to-back victories to knot the set at 5-5, but Furman held and broke for the win. Furman is now 17-5 overall and 3-1 in the ACC.
“That was really nice to see Spencer pull that off after the match was clinched,” Smith said. “I told the guys after the match that it was noncompetitive in the first set. Alexis was killing him. But Spencer is so good mentally. He competes so well. He hung in there and gave himself a chance. The match turned. It was back-and-forth in the third set, but that’s huge for Spencer's confidence. That shows what a great competitor he is and how good he is mentally."
The Blue Devils return to action Friday for a 12 noon home contest against Boston College. Duke finishes the weekend Sunday at No. 2 Virginia for a 1 p.m. match.
Duke 5, N.C. State 2
March 22, 2017 at Durham, N.C. (Ambler Tennis Stadium)
1. Nick Stachowiak/Spencer Furman (DU) vs. #63 Nick Horton/Alexis Galarneau (ST) 4-3, unfinished
2. Jason Lapidus/Ryan Dickerson (DU) def. Ivan Saveljic/Michael Ogden (ST) 6-2
3. Catalin Mateas/TJ Pura (DU) def. Igor Saveljic/Georgiy Malyshev (ST) 6-2
1. #87 Nick Horton (ST) def. #95 Catalin Mateas (DU) 6-3, 6-3
2. #76 Spencer Furman (DU) def. #92 Alexis Galarneau (ST) 1-6, 6-4, 7-5
3. Nick Stachowiak (DU) def. Georgiy Malyshev (ST) 6-1, 6-2
4. TJ Pura (DU) def. Igor Saveljic (ST) 6-3, 6-3
5. Ryan Dickerson (DU) def. Sean Burnette (ST) 6-1, 6-1
6. Michael Ogden (ST) def. Jason Lapidus (DU) 7-6 (7-5), 6-1
NC State 9-9, 0-3 ACC
Duke 9-6, 2-2 ACC
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (5,3,1,6,4,2)
Official: Joseph Buys T-2:45 A-106