SEATTLE – The No. 20 Duke men’s tennis team took an early 1-0 lead by winning the doubles point Saturday against No. 10 Illinois, but the Fighting Illini fought their way back in singles and captured a 4-1 victory at the Nordstrom Tennis Center.
The Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead with a strong doubles performance, capturing victories on courts two and three. On court three it was juniors Jason Lapidus and Ryan Dickerson with the first win, downing Alex Brown and Caleb Chakravarthi 6-2. With the set even at 1-1, Duke broke and held to take a 3-1 lead. Illinois got a game back to trail 3-2, but the Blue Devils won the last three. Lapidus and Dickerson improve to 4-4, all in dual matches.
On court two, redshirt junior Nicolas Alvarez and junior Catalin Mateas held off Zeke Clark and Aleks Kovacevic, 7-5. With the set tied 2-2, the Blue Devils broke to go up 3-2 and held to take a 4-2 lead. Illinois got it down to 4-3 before Duke held again to go up 5-3. Clark and Kovacevic rallied with a hold and break to knot the set at 5-5. Alvarez and Mateas had the answer, breaking and holding to end the match. Alvarez and Mateas up their record to 3-0, all in dual matches.
In singles, Illinois evened the match at 1-1 overall with Brown defeating sophomore Nick Stachowiak 6-0, 6-4 on court three. Brown blew through the first set and led 4-1 in the second before Stachowiak made a late run and closed the gap to 5-4. Brown broke and captured the match. Stachowiak’s five-match winning streak came to an end as he falls to 16-5 overall and 5-2 versus dual foes.
The Fighting Illini took their first lead at 2-1 overall as Noe Khlif defeated sophomore Robert Levine, 6-0, 6-3 on court six. Khlif took the first set before Levine broke and held to go ahead 2-1 in the second set. From there, Khlif responded with four consecutive wins to lead 5-2. Levine got a game back but could not draw even. Levine falls to 5-6 overall and 2-5 against dual competition.
Illinois pushed the lead to 3-1 seconds later as Kovacevic defeated Dickerson, 6-1, 6-2, on court five. Dickerson drops to 12-7 overall and 5-4 in dual action.
A win on court four by Clark finished off the Illinois comeback as he topped freshman Sean Sculley, 6-3, 6-4. The first set was even at 1-1 and 2-2 before Clark went on a hold, break and hold run to open up a 5-2 advantage and finish it off. In the second set, Sculley was broken at 2-2 to fall behind 3-2. Sculley broke right back to knot the set at 3-3. It was even at 4-4 before Clark broke and held for the win. Sculley dips to 11-7 overall and 3-4 in dual matches.
Duke finishes play at the ITA Team Indoor Championship with a 12 noon Sunday match at the Seattle Tennis Center against No. 22 Notre Dame.
#10 Illinois 4, #20 Duke 1
February 17, 2018 at Seattle, Wash. (Nordstrom Tennis Center)
1. #40 Aron Hiltzik/Aleks Vukic (ILL) vs. Nick Stachowiak/Sean Sculley (DU) 6-6 (1-5), unfinished
2. Nicolas Alvarez/Catalin Mateas (DU) def. Zeke Clark/Aleks Kovacevic (ILL) 7-5
3. Jason Lapidus/Ryan Dickerson (DU) def. Alex Brown/Caleb Chakravarthi (ILL) 6-2
1. #46 Aleks Vukic (ILL) vs. #53 Nicolas Alvarez (DU) 7-5, 6-6, unfinished
2. #69 Aron Hiltzik (ILL) vs. Catalin Mateas (DU) 6-4, 3-6, 2-1, unfinished
3. Alex Brown (ILL) def. Nick Stachowiak (DU) 6-0, 6-4
4. Zeke Clark (ILL) def. Sean Sculley (DU) 6-3, 6-4
5. Aleks Kovacevic (ILL) def. Ryan Dickerson (DU) 6-1, 6-2
6. Noe Khlif (ILL) def. Robert Levine (DU) 6-0, 6-3
Duke 6-4; National ranking #20
Illinois 5-3; National ranking #10
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (3,6,5,4)