DURHAM, N.C. - A return home marked a return to the win column for the Duke men’s tennis team on Sunday as it defeated Kentucky 4-1 and N.C. Central 5-1 at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.
The Blue Devils faced a tough challenge against the Wildcats as five of the six singles matches went to third sets. Junior Catalin Mateas provided the clinching point in a three-set decision on court two. Duke bounced back from a pair of three-set losses on Friday at Tennessee with two victories in three sets Sunday. Versus the Eagles sophomore Robert Levine tallied the clinching point.
“This gives guys a ton of confidence,” Mateas said of the victory against Kentucky. “This is a team that we had lost to multiple years in a row. We knew they were a really good team. We were all wanting to beat them. We had a close one Friday, but we did a good job by Saturday morning looking to this match and not looking back on Friday anymore.”
“We have talked a lot about what it means to be a great competitor and having that grittiness, toughness and resilience,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “We have done a really good job with that this year. The guys are embracing it. I thought the exact same thing about Kentucky – they competed extremely well. We knew it was going to be a dogfight and come down to toughness. We’ve been preaching a lot of toughness. It was really neat to see that come through today. So much of college tennis is about heart, toughness and resilience. I think this is going to give us a lot of confidence.”
Against Kentucky, Duke captured its fifth doubles point of the season with victories on courts one and two. On one, freshman Sean Sculley and sophomore Nick Stachowiak defeated Gus Benson and Enzo Wallart, 6-1. The Blue Devil pair led 5-0 before finishing the match. Sculley and Stachowiak improve to 4-3 in dual action and 9-5 overall.
The court two pair of Mateas and redshirt junior Nicolas Alvarez captured the point with a 6-4 victory versus Cesar Bourgois and Ryotaro Matsumura. The set was even at 1-1 and 2-2 before Duke broke and held for a 4-2 advantage. Kentucky got within a game for deficits of 4-3 and 5-4, but the Blue Devils served out for the victory. Mateas and Alvarez bump up to 2-0 overall, all in dual action.
“Doubles was really good today,” Smith said of the performance against Kentucky. “It sets the tone. That certainly helps when playing a tough team like Kentucky. Having said that, we knew singles would be awfully tough. They were.”
Duke pushed the lead to 2-0 with junior Ryan Dickerson’s 6-3, 6-2 victory against Kento Yamada on court five. With the opening set even at 3-3, Dickerson took the final three games. The second set had Dickerson turn a 1-1 tie into a 5-1 lead as he held on for the win.
The Wildcats got on the board and made it 2-1 overall as Austin Hussey pushed past Levine 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 on court six. After Hussey flew through the opening set, Levine was even at 2-2 in the second set. Hussey broke and held to take a 4-2 advantage, but Levine came back and won the final four games. In the third set, Hussey went up 2-0 and 4-2, but Levine again crawled back to knot the set at 4-4. Hussey broke and held to end the match.
The Blue Devils regained the two-point advantage at 3-1 with Alvarez holding off William Bushamuka, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, on court one. Alvarez was knotted at 3-3 in the first set before a hold, break and hold run gave him the win. In the second set, it was Bushamuka who turned a 2-2 tie into a 5-2 advantage. Alvarez got a game back, but Bushamuka served out for the win. The third set was even at 2-2 but a break, hold and break series for Alvarez put him ahead 5-2 before closing out. Alvarez is now 3-0 in dual matches and 8-2 overall.
“Nico has been awesome,” Smith said. “He was two points away from winning at Tennessee against a top-20 player and played extremely well. Today he stepped up. Bushamuka has beaten him before, two years ago here on these courts. He has a huge game and makes it very tough to get a rhythm. He got hot in the second set. I’m really proud with how Nico hung in there. That was a huge, huge win for him to get for us.”
Securing the match was Mateas with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 victory on court two against No. 40 Matsumura. The opening set had Meteas take leads of 2-0 and 4-1 before finishing off the action. The second set was even at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 and 4-4 before Matsumura broke and held to force a deciding set. With Matsumura cramping throughout the third set, Mateas pulled away for the victory, winning the final five games after a 1-1 tie. The win was Mateas’ first in dual action as he improves to 1-2 and 6-5 overall.
“This is the first dual match I’ve gotten to win this spring,” Mateas said. “I felt like I was playing pretty well Friday but just didn’t get to finish the match. That helped me come in pretty confident today. We had a great doubles point and I tried to play how I always do. It was really too bad he was cramping at the end.”
Versus N.C. Central, the Eagles did not have enough healthy student-athletes to field three doubles teams, so a 6-0 victory by junior Jason Lapidus and Dickerson against Theofanis Kontopoulos and Pablo Juez Torres on court two gave Duke the point. Lapidus and Dickerson up their dual match and overall records to 3-3.
With only four singles matches played after lineup adjustments, Duke made a clean sweep of the contested matches. Brooks Campbell registered N.C. Central’s point on a forfeit on court five.
Finishing first for the Blue Devils in the contested matches was Lapidus on court four with a 6-0, 6-2 win versus Juez Torres. Lapidus, who won 10 of the first 11 games of the match, evens his singles record at 1-1 in dual matches and improves to 8-4 overall.
Stachowiak finished seconds later with a 6-0, 6-2 victory against Gabriel Cucalon on court one. Stachowiak swept the first eight games before Cucalon got on the board. Stachowiak is now 16-4 overall and 5-1 in dual matches.
It was Levine who recorded the clinching point, tallying a 6-2, 6-0 win over Sebastian Bromley. Levine was even at 2-2 in the first set before winning the final 10 games. He ups his record to 5-4 overall and 2-3 in dual competition.
Finishing off the match was Dickerson on court two with a 7-5, 7-5 victory versus Kontopoulos. The first set was tied at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4 and 5-5 before Dickerson rallied to win the final two games and take the set. Kontopoulos led 3-1 and 5-2 in the second set, but Dickerson rallied with five consecutive wins to capture the match. Dickerson is now 12-5 overall and 5-2 against dual foes.
Duke is back in action Friday at the ITA Indoor Team Championship in Seattle. The main draw for the event will be determined this week.
#20 Duke 4, Kentucky 1
February 11, 2018 at Durham, N.C. (Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center)
1. Nick Stachowiak/Sean Sculley (DU) def. Gus Benson/Enzo Wallart (UK) 6-1
2. Catalin Mateas/Nicolas Alvarez (DU) def. Cesar Bourgois/Ryotaro Matsumura (UK) 6-4
3. Jason Lapidus/Ryan Dickerson (DU) vs. William Bushamuka/Trey Yates (UK) 4-4, unfinished
1. #53 Nicolas Alvarez (DU) def. William Bushamuka (UK) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
2. Catalin Mateas (DU) def. #40 Ryotaro Matsumura (UK) 6-2, 4-6, 6-1
3. Nick Stachowiak (DU) vs. Enzo Wallart (UK) 6-4, 5-7, 4-2, unfinished
4. Sean Sculley (DU) vs. Trey Yates (UK) 7-5, 5-7, 1-1, unfinished
5. Ryan Dickerson (DU) def. Kento Yamada (UK) 6-3, 6-2
6. Austin Hussey (UK) def. Robert Levine (DU) 6-1, 4-6, 6-4
Duke 5-2; National ranking #20
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (5,6,1,2)
Official: Matthew Dolge T-4:02 A-239
#20 Duke 5, N.C. Central 1
February 11, 2018 at Durham, N.C. (Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center)
1. Nicolas Alvarez/Nick Stachowiak (DU) vs. Gabriel Cucalon/Sebastian Bromley (NCCU) 4-0, unfinished
2. Ryan Dickerson/Jason Lapidus (DU) def. Theofanis Kontopoulos/Pablo Juez Torres (NCCU) 6-0
3. Robert Levine/Sean Sculley (DU) def. No player/No player (NCCU), by forfeit
1. Nick Stachowiak (DU) def. Gabriel Cucalon (NCCU) 6-0, 6-2
2. Ryan Dickerson (DU) def. Theofanis Kontopoulos (NCCU) 7-5, 7-5
3. Robert Levine (DU) def. Sebastian Bromley (NCCU) 6-2, 6-0
4. Jason Lapidus (DU) def. Pablo Juez Torres (NCCU) 6-0, 6-2
5. Brooks Campbell (NCCU) def. No player (DU), by forfeit
6. No player (NCCU) vs. No player (DU) no result
N.C. Central 0-3
Duke 6-2; National ranking #20
Order of finish: Doubles (2); Singles (4,1,3,2)
Official: Lisa Watkins T-2:23 A-105