DURHAM, N.C. – Four quick singles decisions turned a dropped doubles point into a 5-2 victory for the No. 10 Duke men’s tennis team against Virginia Tech on Sunday at Ambler Tennis Stadium. Junior Catalin Mateas clinched his team-leading third match of the campaign while classmate Ryan Dickerson gave Duke a 3-1 overall lead.
The performances by Mateas and Dickerson extended their ACC regular season winning streaks as Mateas stretched his to eight and Dickerson to seven. The two are also tied for the lead among current Blue Devils for career league wins with 13 each.
“Overall that was a good start,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “To start 1-0 is nice. Virginia Tech is a good team with a lot of good players. It feels good to get the win.”
Duke has now won nine of its last 11, 19 of its last 22 and 23 of its last 27 ACC openers. The Blue Devils, now 6-2 at home, improve to 10-5 overall with the victory while the Hokies drop to 9-3.
The Hokies won the doubles point with the last two decisions, on courts two and one. The Blue Devils picked up the first decision on court three, where juniors Jason Lapidus and Dickerson turned a 3-3 tie against Jason Kros and Freddy Mesmer into a 6-3 win with a hold, break and hold run. Dickerson and Lapidus improve to 7-4 overall and 3-1 on court three.
Virginia Tech evened the doubles action on court two, where Mitch Harper and Carlo Donato downed redshirt junior Nicolas Alvarez and Mateas, 6-4. With Duke down 3-2, Virginia Tech broke to take a 4-2 advantage. The Blue Devils answered immediately with a break and hold to knot the set at 4-4. Virginia Tech held and broke to end the match. Alvarez and Mateas dip to 3-3 overall, all in dual matches.
For the Blue Devils’ second straight match, the point came down to court one, where Henrik Korsgaard and Alexandre Ribeiro took down sophomore Nick Stachowiak and freshman Sean Sculley, 7-6 (5). With the match even at 1-1, the Hokie duo held, broke and held to go up 4-1. The three-game lead lasted to 5-2, when Duke held, broke and held to draw the set even at 5-5. Both teams held and the match headed to the tiebreaker. In the tiebreaker, Virginia Tech got out to a 4-1 lead and was up 5-2, but Duke narrowed the gap to one at 6-5. The Hokies took the next point to end the match. Stachowiak and Sculley fall to 10-9 overall and 5-7 in dual action.
“I thought we did a great job bouncing back from losing the doubles point,” Smith added. “I wasn’t pleased with the doubles point. I don’t think we started off with the energy we wanted. Overall it was a poor doubles point and Virginia Tech took it to us. I credit our guys for bouncing back.”
The Blue Devils quickly took a 2-1 lead as Stachowiak and Sculley won their singles matches 6-0, 6-0. Stachowiak got the first decision, downing Donato on court four. Sculley finished seconds later, defeating Korsgaard in the fifth slot. Stachowiak improves to 20-5 overall and 9-2 in dual action while Sculley picked up his first league win, upping his mark to 13-9 overall and 5-6 in dual competition.
Dickerson pushed Duke’s lead to 3-1 with a 6-1, 6-1 triumph against Mesmer on court six. Dickerson led 4-0 in the opening set and won the last five games of the second set to secure the point. Dickerson is now 14-8 overall and 7-5 in dual action.
“We lost a total of two games from the bottom half of our lineup,” Smith said. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that from a team that lost the doubles point. Nick, Sean and Ryan really set the tone. We did a good job grabbing the momentum of singles.”
Mateas provided the clinching point with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 117 Kros on court two. With the first set tied at 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3, No. 92 Mateas went on a hold, break and hold stretch to win it. In the second set, Mateas turned a 2-2 tie into leads of 4-2 and 5-3 before closing out the match. He improves to 8-6 overall and 3-3 against dual foes.
“You can’t be experience,” Smith said of Dickerson and Mateas. “These guys have been through a lot. They understand how tough the ACC conference is. You have to be ready for every single match. We got some good play from our upperclassmen.”
Virginia Tech stopped the point streak with a 6-2, 6-3 victory by Ribeiro against sophomore Spencer Furman on court three. Furman trailed 5-1 in the opening set and was even at 2-2 in the second before Ribeiro went on a three-game run to seize control. Furman falls to 12-7 overall and 2-4 in dual action.
No. 32 Alvarez picked up his third ranked win of the season to finish off the match, downing No. 29 Harper 6-3, 6-4 on court one. Alvarez was even at 1-1 in the opening set before going on a hold, break and hold streak to go up 4-1. Harper answered with a hold and break to narrow the deficit to 4-3, but Alvarez broke back and held to take the set. The second set was tied at one, two and three before Alvarez took a 5-3 advantage. Harper rallied with a game to cut the deficit to 5-4, but Alvarez won the last game. Alvarez improves to 10-2 overall and remains unbeaten in dual matches at 5-0. He is also 3-1 versus ranked opponents.
Duke returns to action Saturday with a 1 p.m. match against No. 6 North Carolina.
#10 Duke 5, Virginia Tech 2
March 4, 2018 at Durham, N.C. (Ambler Tennis Stadium)
1. Henrik Korsgaard/Alexandre Ribeiro (VT) def. Nick Stachowiak/Sean Sculley (DU) 7-6 (7-5)
2. Mitch Harper/Carlo Donato (VT) def. Nicolas Alvarez/Catalin Mateas (DU) 6-4
3. Ryan Dickerson/Jason Lapidus (DU) def. Jason Kros/Freddy Mesmer (VT) 6-3
1. #32 Nicolas Alvarez (DU) def. #29 Mitch Harper (VT) 6-3, 6-4
2. #92 Catalin Mateas (DU) def. #117 Jason Kros (VT) 6-3, 6-3
3. Alexandre Ribeiro (VT) def. Spencer Furman (DU) 6-2, 6-3
4. Nick Stachowiak (DU) def. Carlo Donato (VT) 6-0, 6-0
5. Sean Sculley (DU) def. Henrik Korsgaard (VT) 6-0, 6-0
6. Ryan Dickerson (DU) def. Freddy Mesmer (VT) 6-1, 6-1
Virginia Tech 9-3, 0-2 ACC
Duke 10-5, 1-0 ACC; National ranking #10
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (4,5,6,2,3,1)
Official: Roger Pennington T-2:23 A-176