FORT WORTH, Texas - For the sixth time in eight seasons, the Duke men’s tennis team has punched its ticket to the ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship. The Blue Devils swept San Diego 4-0 on Sunday to capture the Fort Worth ITA Kick-Off Weekend.
Sophomore Spencer Furman made the most of the weekend, winning twice in doubles and clinching Sunday’s match with a 7-6 (6), 6-2 victory against August Holmgren on court two. The weekend was a homecoming of sorts for Furman, whose parents live in the Fort Worth area. His match-clinching win sends the Blue Devils to the team indoor championship in Seattle, where Furman grew up.
“It was a total team effort,” Furman said. “Everybody stepped up and played their part. It’s so exciting to know our work paid off over the fall and so far this year. We’re just ready to build off the momentum and keep riding the wave.”
Duke will return to the ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship for the first time since 2015. The Blue Devils also improve to 13-2 in ITA Kick-Off Weekend competition.
“It was a great team effort from us today and really all weekend,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “I’m really proud of the guys. They handed adversity well, stepped up and found a way to be really mentally tough. We were able to win a lot of close games, sets and matches. Today was 4-0, but it was a lot closer than that. San Diego had a huge win over TCU yesterday, so we knew how good they were. I’m really excited this group gets the opportunity to advance to Seattle.”
For the third time in three matches, Duke took the early lead by winning the doubles point. San Diego struck first with a 6-2 win by Holmgren and Joel Gamerov versus juniors Jason Lapidus and Ryan Dickerson on court two, but Duke rebounded with victories on courts one and three.
Freshman Sean Sculley and sophomore Nick Stachowiak got the ball rolling Duke’s way with a 6-4 win on court one against Gui Osorio and Nico Borter. With the set even at 2-2 and then 3-3, Duke ran off three of the last four games for the victory.
Furman and junior Catalin Mateas finished off the doubles point, flipping a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 advantage and never relinquishing the lead, topping David Norfeldt and Pratt Keerasuntonpong, 6-3. The pair led 4-3 before taking the last two games for the decision. Mateas and Furman are now 2-0 in dual matches this season.
In singles, Duke won five of the six first sets and took all three singles decisions in straight sets.
“That was a huge first set for us,” Smith said. “The first sets on courts five, three and two were huge. Spencer barely pulled put the first set. Nick pulled out a huge first set tiebreaker and Ryan was able to come back and win his opening set. That was really the turning point of the dual match for us. We were able to maintain momentum from doubles and keep it going in singles.”
On court four, Sculley earned the first win, topping Borter 6-3, 6-3. Sculley led 4-2 and 5-2 in the opening set before Borter got a game back to trail 5-3, but Sculley put the set away. In the second set, Sculley pushed a 2-1 lead into a 4-2 advantage. Borter again won a game to trail by just one at 4-3, but Sculley took the last two games for the match. Sculley improves to 3-0 in dual match play.
“It has been really neat to see Sean in his first dual matches and how well he competes,” Smith said. “He raises his game when it has been needed. He has been an awesome dual match player so far. You cannot start any better than how he has in singles. Him getting the first win in singles for us really helped us out today.”
Dickerson earned his second victory of the weekend on court five, defeating Alexandros Araouzos 7-5, 6-2 to give Duke a 3-0 advantage. Dickerson led 5-3 in the opening set before Araouzos responded and knotted the set at 5-5. Dickerson then rallied with the last two games for the set. The second set was even at 2-2 before Dickerson ran away with the last four games. Dickerson is now 3-0 in dual match play.
“We know what we get from Ryan,” Smith said. “He has been around for a couple years now and been so solid in the bottom of lineup. He is playing some of best tennis right now. It was great for him to win the first set today.”
Furman, ranked No. 81 in singles, finished the match on court two, taking a tiebreaker in the first set and matching Dickerson in the second set, being even at 2-2 and winning the last four games. Furman is now 2-1 in dual matches.
“It was really special for Spencer,” Smith said. “We were able to start the trip with an amazing dinner at the Furman’s house Thursday night. He had a big win in doubles yesterday and lost a tough singles match. I thought he felt he was a little down. But I told him we didn’t need him yesterday in singles, but tomorrow he had a chance to be the hero. Sure enough, he clinches doubles with Catalin, which was huge for us, today. Then in singles he fought so hard today. He really had no business winning the first set, but he hung around like he always does and played great tennis. It was exciting to see him clinch in front of parents, family and friends here in Fort Worth.”
Duke is back in action Friday for its home opener, facing No. 16 Illinois at 6 p.m. The Blue Devils finish the home weekend with a 12 noon Sunday match versus Northwestern.
#24 Duke 4, San Diego 0
January 28, 2018 at Fort Worth, Texas (Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center)
1. Nick Stachowiak/Sean Sculley (DU) def. Gui Osorio/Nico Borter (USD) 6-4
2. August Holmgren/Joel Gamerov (USD) def. Jason Lapidus/Ryan Dickerson (DU) 6-2
3. Catalin Mateas/Spencer Furman (DU) def. David Norfeldt/Pratt Keerasuntonpong (USD) 6-3
1. Catalin Mateas (DU) vs. Gui Osorio (USD) 6-1, 0-6, 5-5, unfinished
2. #81 Spencer Furman (DU) def. August Holmgren (USD) 7-6 (8-6), 6-2
3. Nick Stachowiak (DU) vs. Joel Gamerov (USD) 7-6 (8-6), 4-5, unfinished
4. Sean Sculley (DU) def. Nico Borter (USD) 6-3, 6-3
5. Ryan Dickerson (DU) def. Alexandros Araouzos (USD) 7-5, 6-2
6. Jason Lapidus (DU) vs. David Norfeldt (USD) 3-6, 6-4, 2-4, unfinished
Duke 3-0; National ranking #24
San Diego 2-1
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (4,5,2)