ATHENS, Ga. – The No. 35 Duke men's tennis team made its return to the NCAA Team Championship on Friday, but fell 4-0 to No. 22 South Florida. The Blue Devils (16-10) dropped a highly contested doubles point and suffered setbacks in all six singles first sets before the Bulls (18-8) put away the match.
“It wasn't our day today,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “I give full credit to South Florida. I thought they played a tremendous match. They really took it to us early in singles. We battled there at the end and turned a couple matches around, on courts two and five. Our guys fought like they always have.”
The doubles point went down to the wire, with South Florida taking a tiebreaker on court two to lead 1-0. The Bulls earned the first decision as No. 44 Sasha Gozun and Alberto Barroso-Campos defeated the No. 20 team of freshmen Nick Stachowiak and Spencer Furman 6-2 on court one. The match was even at 1-1 before South Florida went on a hold, break and hold run to take a 4-1 advantage. Duke got a game back to trail 4-2, but South Florida held and broke to end the match. Stachowiak and Furman dip to 19-4.
The Blue Devils evened the doubles action on court three, where senior TJ Pura and sophomore Catalin Mateas earned a 6-2 win against Justin Roberts and Peter Bertran. Much like on court one, the match was tied 1-1 and Duke held, broke and held to take a 4-1 lead. The Bulls got a game back to make it 4-2, but Duke took the next two games with a hold and break. Pura and Mateas improve to 9-4 overall.
With the action coming down to court two, sophomores Jason Lapidus and Ryan Dickerson fell 7-6 (3) to Vadym Kalyuzhnny and Jakub Wojcik. The two teams were even at every point. Lapidus and Dickerson led 6-5 and 40-30 in the 12th game before the Bulls fought back to force the tiebreaker. Duke was able to take a 3-2 lead in the tiebreaker, but USF won the last five points to capture the point. Lapidus and Dickerson slip to 10-8.
“The momentum really shifted in doubles,” Smith added. “We had two match points to clinch, which I think would have given us a little more confidence and maybe changed momentum. But South Florida played awfully well in singles in all six spots.”
South Florida made it a 2-0 advantage on court three as No. 108 Barroso-Campos downed freshman Robert Levine 6-1, 6-2. Levine ends his rookie year 18-18.
The Bulls added their third point on court one, with No. 52 Gozun topping No. 75 Furman 6-3, 6-1. Gozun led 2-0 and 3-1 in the opening set. Furman got it down to a game at 3-2, but Gozun won three of the last four games for the set. The second set was even at 1-1 before Gozun went on a five-game run. Furman wraps up his freshman year with a 20-13 ledger.
South Florida completed the match with No. 99 Bertran taking a 6-4, 6-2 decision against Stachowiak on court four. With a 1-1 tie in the first set, Stachowiak broke and held to take a 3-1 lead. He held a 4-2 lead before Bertran stormed back with four straight wins to end the set. The second set was knotted at 1-1 and 2-2, but Bertran again ran off the final four games to get the victory. Stachowiak caps his campaign with a 32-12 record.
“I think these guys have really set the foundation for future success,” Smith said of this year's team. “It was a little bit of a rebuilding year with a very young team. We came here with seven players and played with six or seven for almost the entire year. Getting here was an accomplishment. Halfway through the year it wasn't looking very good. The guys could have easily thrown in the towel. We finished very strong and gave ourselves a chance. Obviously I wish we could have advanced a little bit further, but it wasn't our day today.”
While the team portion of Duke's season has come to an end, Furman and Stachowiak will represent the Blue Devils at the NCAA Doubles Tournament in Athens from May 24-29. The duo was one of 20 at-large selections to the field.
No. 22 South Florida 4, No. 35 Duke 0
May 12, 2017 at Athens, Ga. (Dan Magill Tennis Complex)
1. #52 Sasha Gozun (USF) def. #75 Spencer Furman (DU) 6-3, 6-1
2. Justin Roberts (USF) vs. #104 Catalin Mateas (DU) 6-1, 6-6 (4-3), unfinished
3. #108 Alberto Campos (USF) def. Robert Levine (DU) 6-1, 6-2
4. #99 Peter Bertran (USF) def. Nick Stachowiak (DU) 6-4, 6-2
5. Vadym Kalyuzhnny (USF) vs. TJ Pura (DU) 6-3, 3-6, unfinished
6. Jakub Wojcik (USF) vs. Ryan Dickerson (DU) 6-3, 5-3, unfinished
1. Alberto Campos/Sasha Gozun (USF) def. Spencer Furman/Nick Stachowiak (DU) 6-2
2. Peter Bertran/Justin Roberts (USF) def. Ryan Dickerson/Jason Lapidus (DU) 7-6 (7-3)
3. Catalin Mateas/TJ Pura (DU) def. Vadym Kalyuzhnny/Jakub Wojcik (USF) 6-2
Duke 16-10; National ranking #35
USF 18-8; National ranking #22
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (3,1,4)
Official: Richard Rogers T-1:29