DURHAM, N.C. – Following a week off from competition after the fall’s season-opening Duke James Bonk Invitational, the Duke men’s tennis team is back in action at the Saint Francis ITA Men’s All-American Championships. The event will take place in Tulsa, Okla., at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center for the 13th straight year.
Qualifying matches start on Monday and main draw contests get underway Thursday. The singles and doubles finals are scheduled for Monday, October 9.
“This is always a neat tournament because of its size,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “Almost all Division I tennis players are involved in at least the prequalifying. You can work your way into qualifying and then the main draw. We only have eight guys on the team right now and we have six playing in this event. It’s going to provide a lot of opportunities for these guys to get in some good matches and implement a lot of the things we’ve been working on. We’re in a constant state of trying to get better and work on players’ games.”
Junior Catalin Mateas and sophomore Nick Stachowiak lead the Blue Devils in the qualifying rounds. Mateas, ranked No. 61 in the preseason Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll, posted a 2-1 showing at the Bonk Invite with Stachowiak turning in a 3-1 mark for a third place performance his in draw.
The Blue Devils have two participants already qualified for the main draw in redshirt junior Nicolas Alvarez and sophomore Spencer Furman. Alvarez stands at No. 34 in the Oracle/ITA poll with Furman at No. 44. This will be Alvarez’s first competition for Duke since suffering a season-ending injury while in Hawai'i for the beginning of the 2017 spring campaign. Furman went 4-0 at the Bonk Invite, capturing his draw with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 win against North Carolina’s Simon Soendegaard in the championship tilt.
“He hasn’t played a point for us since USTA/ITA National Indoors [last fall],” Smith said of Alvarez. “He’s locked in and playing well. He’s anxious to get back out there.”
In doubles, the tandem of Stachowiak and Furman will take part in the main draw with Mateas and freshman Sean Sculley in the qualifying portion of the event. Stachowiak and Furman stand No. 12 in the preseason rankings with Mateas and Sculley at No. 52.
Singles quarterfinalists, doubles semifinalists and consolation finalists will receive an automatic entry into the 2017 Oracle ITA National Fall Championships, held November 1-5, at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert, Calif., and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif.
Sophomore Robert Levine will also be in action over the weekend, playing at the Monarch Invitational at Old Dominion. Levine will be the top seed in the Navy Draw.
Following action at the ITA All-American, Duke will host the ITA Regional Qualifier in Cary, N.C., at the Cary Tennis Park October 13-17.