DURHAM, N.C. – A tightly contested doubles point swung the momentum in favor of No. 8 Michigan as the No. 10 Duke squad dropped a 4-0 decision Thursday at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.
In the first top-10 matchup in Durham in four years, the Wolverines (9-2) continued the momentum from the doubles point into six first sets. Duke (9-5) rebounded in the second sets, winning two and capturing at least five games in five. The comeback ran out of time as Carter Lin clinched the match for Michigan on court five.
“Congratulations to Michigan,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “I thought they did a really good job. Doubles kind of set the tone. I thought we played a really good doubles point, especially at No. 1 and No. 3. I don’t know if we put the doubles point behind us quickly enough. We obviously got off to a really poor start in singles. Naturally you’re always a little discouraged when you lose a doubles point, especially when you have chances. I think we had an opportunity to get a point at one of Michigan's best spots, but we needed to do a better job putting that doubles point behind us and having urgency in those first three games of singles. Michigan definitely took control of the momentum of the dual match there.”
Doubles points are hard to find closer than the one played Thursday with the Wolverines coming away with a 1-0 lead from victories on courts two and one. On two, Michigan’s Myles Schalet and Connor Johnston exchanged breaks throughout with redshirt junior Nicolas Alvarez and junior Catalin Mateas. The Wolverines came away with a 6-4 victory. Michigan held and broke to start the set, but Duke answered with a break to trail just 2-1. With the Blue Devils serving, the Wolverines won the first of three deuce points in the set and pushed the lead to 3-1. Three games later, another deuce point went to Michigan, which took a 5-2 advantage. Duke held and broke, on a deuce point, to trail just 5-4 and serve, but a final deuce point went to Michigan to end the match. Alvarez and Mateas dip to 3-2 overall, all in dual matches.
On court three, Duke evened the doubles action with a 7-6 (5) victory by juniors Ryan Dickerson and Jason Lapidus against Mattias Siimar and Kristofer Siimar. Neither team was able to get a break and the set was tied throughout. In the tiebreaker, Michigan turned a 2-2 deadlock into a 4-2 lead. The Blue Devils rallied with four straight points to go up 6-4. Michigan got a point back, but a Lapidus ace ended it in favor of Duke. Dickerson and Lapidus up their mark to 6-4, all in dual matches.
“That was one of the better matches they’ve played,” Smith said of Dickerson and Lapidus. “Jason Lapidus really stepped up.”
The point came down to court one, where the No. 8 team of Alex Knight and Runhao Hua took down sophomore Nick Stachowiak and freshman Sean Sculley, 7-5. Neither team had a break until the final game, when a deuce point went in favor of Michigan to register the win. Stachowiak and Sculley fall to 10-8 overall and 5-6 in dual action.
“It came down to one,” Smith added. “We had a bunch of chances there and some break points to go up 6-5, but didn’t get them. We lost on the deuce point and were right there.”
In singles, Michigan extended the lead to 2-0 with a 6-4, 6-2 victory by No. 33 Hua against No. 92 Mateas on court two. In the opening set, Hua got out to a 4-1 lead, but Mateas went on a hold, break and hold run to knot the set at 4-4. Hua rebounded with ahold and break of his own to end the set. In the second set, Hua turned a 1-1 tie into a 4-1 lead and held off Mateas for the win. Mateas drops to 7-6 overall and 2-3 in dual action.
The Wolverines pushed the lead to 3-0 on court three, where Mattias Siimar defeated sophomore Spencer Furman 6-3, 7-5. Furman, playing his first match in a month after recovering from an ankle injury, fell behind 3-0 in the opening set. He got within two games at 3-1 and 4-2, but Siimar closed out for the win. In the second set, Furman was even at 3-3 before holding and breaking to go up 5-3. Siimar rebounded with the final four games for the match. Furman falls to 12-6 overall and 2-3 in dual competition.
The clinching point came on court five, where Carter Lin fought off Sculley for a 6-4, 7-5 victory. In the first set, Sculley jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Lin evened it at 2-2. With the set knotted at 3-3, Lin broke and held to go up 5-3. Sculley got a game back, but Lin served out for the win. The second set had Sculley take leads of 3-0, 4-2 and 5-3, but Lin ran off the last four games for the match. Sculley is now 12-9 overall and 4-6 in dual matches.
“I think we did do a good job getting our teeth in the match,” Smith said. “We made a surge there in the second sets and gave ourselves a shot. Nicolas and Nick won their second sets. Nick was just a couple points away from winning his second set. We served for the second sets at five and six. We served for a second set at three. We were this close to splitting on just about every single court. I’m proud of the guys and that we competed hard. We just couldn’t quite close out some of the second sets.”
Duke starts ACC action Sunday with a 1 p.m. home match against Virginia Tech.
#8 Michigan 4, #10 Duke 0
March 1, 2018 at Durham, N.C. (Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center)
1. #8 Alex Knight/Runhao Hua (MICH) def. Nick Stachowiak/Sean Sculley (DU) 7-5
2. Myles Schalet/Connor Johnston (MICH) def. Nicolas Alvarez/Catalin Mateas (DU) 6-4
3. Ryan Dickerson/Jason Lapidus (DU) def. Mattias Siimar/Kristofer Siimar (MICH) 7-6 (7-5)
1. #32 Nicolas Alvarez (DU) vs. #5 Alex Knight (MICH) 1-6, 7-6 (7-2), 0-2, unfinished
2. #33 Runhao Hua (MICH) def. #92 Catalin Mateas (DU) 6-4, 6-2
3. Mattias Siimar (MICH) def. Spencer Furman (DU) 6-3, 7-5
4. Nick Stachowiak (DU) vs. #122 Myles Schalet (MICH) 1-6, 6-2, 5-4, unfinished
5. Carter Lin (MICH) def. Sean Sculley (DU) 6-4, 7-5
6. Ryan Dickerson (DU) vs. Davis Crocker (MICH) 4-6, 5-6, unfinished
Michigan 9-2; National ranking #8
Duke 9-5; National ranking #10
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (2,3,5)
Official: Matthew Dolge T-2:42 A-162