DURHAM, N.C. – With a 4-1 record and the ITA National Team Indoor Championship looming next week, the No. 20 Duke men’s tennis team (4-1) has three matches this weekend, traveling to Tennessee (7-2) for a 6 p.m. Friday match before hosting Kentucky (6-2) and N.C. Central (0-1) on Sunday. First serve is set for 1 p.m. against the Wildcats and 6 p.m. versus the Eagles.
All regular season Duke men’s tennis home events at Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center and Ambler Tennis Stadium are free to the public. General public parking is available in the Blue Zone parking lot off Duke University Road. Sunday’s match is a Royal Blue Club event.
Tennessee Series History
Friday’s match will be the 25th meeting between the Blue Devils and the Volunteers with Tennessee holding a 13-11 advantage … The squads have met annually since 2011 with Duke going 5-4 during the stretch and winning the last three contests … In the last five meetings, only two have been determined by more than two points … The Blue Devils are 3-6 in Knoxville versus the Volunteers … Last February in Durham, Duke blanked Tennessee 4-0 … Providing the clinching point was Ryan Dickerson, who topped Luca Wiedenmann 6-2, 6-3 on court six … In their dual match singles careers, Nicolas Alvarez owns a 2-0 mark against the Volunteers while Catalin Mateas, Nick Stachowiak and Spencer Furman are 1-0 … At the Charlotte 49ers Fall Invitational in October, Sean Sculley picked up a 6-3, 6-2 victory against the Volunteers’ Adam Walton in the A2 draw semifinals while Jason Lapidus dropped a 6-3, 6-1 decision to Scott Jones in the A1 draw round of 16.
Scouting the Volunteers
Tennessee’s 7-2 start has been fueled by a 7-0 home record … The Volunteers’ lineup is led by Timo Stodder, who has gone 8-1 in the No. 1 spot and is ranked No. 18 this week … He owns a team-best 20-5 overall record this season … Preston Touliatos has posted a 7-1 mark in dual matches, all in the second spot … Nicaise Muamba has also been strong with a combined 6-2 singles record at No. 3 (4-1), No. 4 (1-0) and No. 5 (1-1) … In doubles, Touliatos and Walton are the top team, going 6-2 at No. 1 … Tennessee has used five other doubles teams to round out the lineup.
Kentucky Series History
Sunday will mark the sixth straight year of competition between Duke and Kentucky, with the Blue Devils owning a 12-6 lead in the series … The teams split wins in 1973 and 1974 before taking a 20-year break in the series … Duke captured nine consecutive victories from 1994 to 2000 prior to Kentucky holding a 4-2 advantage in the last six matches … The Wildcats have won consecutive matches for just the second time in series history and are looking for their first three-match winning streak against the Blue Devils … Duke is 3-3 in Durham versus Kentucky … For their singles careers in dual matches, Stachowiak is 1-0, Alvarez and Mateas are 1-1 against UK and Robert Levine and Furman are 0-1 … This fall at the Wake Forest Fall Invitational, Stachowiak defeated Kentucky’s Enzo Wallart 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3) in A2 draw’s semifinals and then topped the Wildcats’ Jake Stefanik 7-5, 6-0 in the title tilt … During the same event, Furman downed Austin Hussey 6-3, 6-2 in the A1 draw’s round of 16.
Scouting the Wildcats
Kentucky is off to a 6-2 start and has won four consecutive matches, including a 4-1 victory at Virginia in the Wildcats’ last match … UK has is led by No. 40 Ryotaro Matsumura, Trey Yates and William Bushamuka … The Wildcats also have one ranked doubles pairing as Yates and Wallart check in at No. 38 … Bushamuka (1-1 in dual matches) has filled the top spot in the order with Matsumura (5-0 in dual matches) most often playing in the second slot … In doubles, the top pairing has been Cesar Bourgois and Wallart with the two going 4-3 ... Matsumura and Gus Benson have recently played in the second slot, posting a 1-0 record.
N.C. Central Series History
Duke has gone 12-0 against N.C. Central and the two programs have met every year since 2009 … The Blue Devils have won eight meetings by 7-0 scores, including last February’s contest … All 12 matches have been at Duke.
Scouting the Eagles
NCCU has played one dual match this season, falling 7-0 at Appalachian State … The Mountaineers won all five singles matches in straight sets.
“We have a neat stretch here,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “Starting Friday we’ll play six matches in 10 days. We’re playing a lot of great teams. It’s an exciting stretch for us to wrap up the indoor part of the season. We have Tennessee on the road Friday. They’re a young, good team with a new coaching staff this year. It’s always tough at their place. Then we come back for Kentucky and N.C. Central on Sunday.”
Smith Aims for No. 184
Smith earned his 183rd career victory Sunday against Northwestern, moving into a tie with John LeBar (1971-82) for second place on the Duke all-time wins chart … One more win would leave Smith behind only Jay Lapidus on the program’s victory ledger … Jay, the father of current junior Jason Lapidus, compiled a 373-127 record as head coach from 1991-2008 … Jay Lapidus was also the head coach for Smith (1998-2001) and associate head coach Jonathan Stokke (2003-06) during their Blue Devil careers.
A 4-1 Record Through Five
For the first time since the 2015 campaign, Duke is 4-1 through five dual matches … The Blue Devils began 3-2 in 2017 and 1-4 in 2016 … In the 2015 season, Duke went on to have the best 14-match record in program history at 13-1.
Rebounding on the Road
Duke finished the 2017 dual match season with a 3-7 road record … However, all seven of the team’s road losses came to foes ranked within the top 20 at the time of the matches … So far this season, Duke is unbeaten away from home, going 1-0 in its only true road match, winning at Arizona State to begin the campaign, and 2-0 in neutral site contests, defeating Louisville and San Diego during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend.
Another Strong Start for Stachowiak
Stachowiak has opened the dual match campaign as one of three Blue Devils with 3-1 singles records … As a freshman last spring, Stachowiak started on a tear, winning his first 11 dual match decisions … Stachowiak leads the Blue Devils in overall singles wins (14) and wins against ranked opponents (two) while holding the longest current winning streak at three matches.
“He has been nothing but solid since he arrived on campus,” Smith said. “He has had a couple of small, tough stretches, but overall he has been incredibly consistent. I felt like he didn’t play his best the very first match of the year, but has steadily gotten better. This past weekend he was phenomenal in singles and doubles. He is in a really good place right now and playing with a lot of confidence. He is playing with a very tough, gritty mindset, which is the foundation for him. When he has that mindset I know he’s going to play well.”
Alvarez Returns with a Bang
After missing three matches due to a foot injury, redshirt junior Alvarez returned to the court Sunday against Northwestern and picked up a 6-2, 6-0 victory on court one against Antonioni Fasano … In two dual matches played this season, Alvarez has provided the clinching point against Arizona State and gave Duke a 2-0 lead against Northwestern … Alvarez owns a 29-17 record in dual matches in his career, including a 23-16 ledger on court one.
Duke No. 20 in Oracle/ITA Poll and Alvarez Appears in ITA Singles Rankings
Following a 1-1 weekend, the Blue Devils dropped one spot to No. 20 in this week’s Oracle/ITA poll … Duke has one ranked singles player with Alvarez at No. 53.
Last Time Out
After suffering its first loss of the season Friday night to No. 12 Illinois, the No. 19 Duke men’s tennis team rebounded Sunday with a strong performance against Northwestern, blanking the Wildcats 4-0 … For the fourth time in five matches, Duke got off to an early 1-0 lead thanks to capturing the doubles point … Mateas, a junior, and Alvarez won 6-2 against Chris Ephron and Michael Lorenzini on court three with Stachowiak and freshman Sculley downing Ben Vandixhorn and Dominik Stary 6-3 on court one … Two quick decisions in singles pushed the Blue Devil lead to 3-0 and on the verge of clinching … On court one, Alvarez defeated Fasano 6-2, 6-0 … Stachowiak was not far behind, defeating Nick Brookes 6-3, 6-1 on court three … The final point came from sophomore Levine on court six as he picked up a 6-3, 6-2 win against Ephron.
Duke heads to Seattle for the ITA National Team Indoor Championship … The Blue Devils will play Friday, February 16, through Sunday, February 18, at the event.