DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 46 Duke men’s tennis team opened its final home weekend of the year with a 4-3 win Friday against No. 41 Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish took the doubles point, but the Blue Devils answered with the first four singles decisions to clinch the match.
Duke improves to 11-1 at home this year, falling only to No. 2 Wake Forest. Sophomore Ryan Dickerson provided the clinching match on court six with a 6-1, 6-2 victory against Guillermo Cabrera while TJ Pura kicked off his senior weekend winning in straight sets to improve to 9-0 in ACC play. Freshman Nick Stachowiak also helped Duke’s cause as a double winner, picking up the highest-ranked doubles victory of his career with classmate Spencer Furman and earning his team-leading 29th singles triumph, which tied the match at 1-1 overall.
“It was all about how we handled losing the doubles point,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “Our backs were against the wall in an important match for our season. I’m so proud of our guys. That’s about the best I’ve ever seen one of our Duke teams rebound from losing the doubles point. We came out so positive and with so much energy. In those first four singles wins we only lost 10 games. We were relentless from start to finish. I’m incredible proud. Notre Dame is a really tough team. I’m so happy we were able to get ahead and finish the way we did.”
The Fighting Irish (12-10, 3-6 ACC) captured the first doubles decision with a 6-2 win by Grayson Broadus and Brendon Kempin against Pura and sophomore Catalin Mateas on court three. With the score 2-1 in favor of the Fighting Irish, Broadus and Kempin earned a break to go up 3-1. Duke broke back to trail 3-2, but Notre Dame won the last three. Pura and Mateas dip to 6-3 overall and 5-3 in league action.
Duke (13-8, 6-4 ACC) evened the doubles action on court one, where No. 61 Stachowiak and Furman defeated No. 19 Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi 6-2. Furman and Stachowiak jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Fighting Irish got a game back. The Blue Devil pair won the next three games to take a commanding 5-1 advantage and hold on. It was the highest-ranked win of the year for Duke’s freshman duo. Stachowiak and Furman improve to 17-2 overall and 5-2 in league play. Stachowiak owns 25 doubles wins, tied for the seventh most for a Blue Devil rookie.
Notre Dame finished the point on court two, where Matt Gamble and Alex Lebedev held off sophomores Dickerson and Jason Lapidus 6-4. It is the third straight match Dickerson and Lapidus have determined the doubles point. The Duke pair fell into an early 2-0 hole and got the deficit down to a game four times, but could never force a tie. Dickerson and Lapidus fall to 7-6 overall and 3-6 in ACC play.
Stachowiak wasted little time evening the match at 1-1 overall by rolling through Gamble 6-1, 6-0 on court four. Stachowiak ups his record to 29-10 overall and 5-5 in league play. His 29 wins are one away from a place on the Blue Devil top-10 freshman list.
“Nick has had a couple tough matches,” Smith added. “At the beginning of the season he won his first 14 matches. He played a little bit higher and lost a couple tough ones, but has really responded the right way. He has put in extra work and earned his confidence back through the practice court. It was huge to get that equalizer. He was awesome today.”
Duke took the lead on court five as Pura earned a 6-2, 6-0 victory against Broadus. Pura ups his record to 26-9 overall and 9-0 against ACC competition.
Seconds later, Duke pushed the lead to 3-1 on court two, where No. 100 Mateas topped Covalschi 6-2, 6-2. Mateas broke and held to open the match ahead 2-0. Covalschi got it down to a game at 2-1 and 3-2 before Mateas went on a hold-break-hold series to end the first set. The second set had Covalschi take the first game, but Mateas the next five to cruise to the victory. Mateas has won five straight matches and is now 22-12 overall and 6-3 in ACC action.
The Blue Devils tallied the clinch from Dickerson’s 6-1, 6-2 win against Cabrera on court six. Dickerson was even at 1-1 in the first set before taking the final five games. The second set was also tied at 1-1, but Dickerson broke and held to take a two-game lead at 3-1. Cabrera won for a 3-2 set, but Dickerson captured the last three for the match. Dickerson improves to 19-6 overall and 7-3 against conference opponents.
Notre Dame tallied its second point on court three as Lebedev topped freshman Robert Levine 7-5, 6-2. The first set had Levine trail 3-0 before evening the set at 4-4. With a 5-5 tie, Lebedev took the last two games. Lebedev got out to another 3-0 lead in the second set, but Levine could not even the action as Lebedev won. Levine falls to 17-15 and 0-4 in ACC matches.
The final point also went to Notre Dame with No. 59 Hagar downing No. 89 Furman 7-5, 7-6 (9) on court one. The first set was knotted at each of the first three points before Hagar held and broke to go ahead 5-3. Furman answered with a hold and break to tie the set, but Hagar took the final two games. The second set followed nearly the same pattern with a 3-3 tie, Hagar holding and breaking and Furman answering with a hold and break to even the set at 5-5. Each held to force the tiebreaker. Both went on two-point runs through the first eight points with Hagar going up 2-0, a 2-2 tie, Hagar up 4-2 and a 4-4 tie. The two alternated the next 10 points to land at 9-9 before Hagar took the final two. Furman is now 19-9 overall and 5-5 in ACC action.
Duke is back in action Saturday, hosting Miami at 3 p.m. The contest will serve as senior day for Pura.
No. 46 Duke 4, No. 41 Notre Dame 3
April 14, 2017 at Durham, N.C. (Ambler Tennis Stadium)
1. #61 Nick Stachowiak/Spencer Furman (DU) def. #19 Eddy Covalschi/Josh Hagar (ND) 6-2
2. Matt Gamble/Alex Lebedev (ND) def. Jason Lapidus/Ryan Dickerson (DU) 6-4
3. Grayson Broadus/Brendon Kempin (ND) def. Catalin Mateas/TJ Pura (DU) 6-2
1. #59 Josh Hagar (ND) def. #89 Spencer Furman (DU) 7-5, 7-6 (9)
2. #100 Catalin Mateas (DU) def. Eddy Covalschi (ND) 6-2, 6-2
3. Alex Lebedev (ND) def. Robert Levine (DU) 7-5, 6-2
4. Nick Stachowiak (DU) def. Matt Gamble (ND) 6-1, 6-0
5. TJ Pura (DU) def. Grayson Broadus (ND) 6-2, 6-0
6. Ryan Dickerson (DU) def. Guillermo Cabrera (ND) 6-1, 6-2
Notre Dame 12-10, 3-6 ACC; National ranking #41
Duke 13-8, 6-4 ACC; National ranking #46
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (4,5,2,6,3,1)
Official: Reliford Sanders T-3:07 A-208