DUE TO LINGERING SHOWERS IN THE AREA, SATURDAY'S MATCH WILL NOT START BEFORE 1:30 PM
DURHAM, N.C. – The annual battle for bragging rights on the tennis courts between North Carolina and Duke will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, when the 12th-ranked Blue Devils (10-5, 1-0 ACC) welcome the eighth-ranked Tar Heels (10-3, 1-0 ACC) to Durham.
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. Saturday’s match is a Royal Blue Club event.
North Carolina Series History
In a series that dates to 1912, the Tar Heels own an 89-40 advantage … In the last nine matches, however, North Carolina owns just a 5-4 advantage … The two squads have met at least once a year since 1937 … The Tar Heels won 58 of 61 matches from 1928 to 1977 … The Blue Devils have responded more recently, going 20-9 against UNC since 1997 … North Carolina is the only ACC foe that owns an all-time series lead against the Blue Devils … In the last meeting in Durham, the Tar Heels captured a 6-1 victory April 17, 2016 … In singles during their dual match careers, Nicolas Alvarez is 1-1, Catalin Mateas, Nick Stachowiak, Spencer Furman and Ryan Dickerson are 0-1 and Jason Lapidus is 0-2 versus the Tar Heels.
Scouting the Tar Heels
North Carolina features three ranked singles players and one ranked doubles team, helping the Tar Heels to be near the top of the Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings … Sophomore William Blumberg is ranked No. 1 in the country this week … He has gone 7-2 in the No. 1 singles position … Freshman Benjamin Sigouin has filled in three times on the top court, winning all three … Sigouin is 6-1 at No. 2 and ranked No. 39 this week … Senior Robert Kelly rounds out the ranked players, at No. 120 this week … He is 0-2 at No. 2, 5-2 at No. 3 and 1-0 at No. 4 … In doubles, Blumberg and Kelly are ranked No. 6 and have gone 8-3 on court one … Four teams have filled the No. 2 position with Sigouin and junior Anu Kodali playing there most recently and going 3-1 in that slot.
“It’s always an exciting match,” head coach Ramsey Smith said of facing North Carolina. “They’ve been so good, especially the last couple of years. It’s a challenge for us. It’s a special match and a great rivalry. I think we need to make sure we stay focused on us, what we can control and not get too wrapped up in it. We’re excited to play a great team on Saturday.”
ACC Winning Streaks in Singles
Mateas, Dickerson and Alvarez head into Saturday’s match with lengthy ACC regular season winning streaks … Mateas, a junior, has won his last eight decisions of the league regular season, last losing 6-3, 6-3 to No. 87 Nick Horton of N.C. State on March 22, 2017 … The streak is tied for the ninth longest in program history … Dickerson’s streak is nearly as impressive, spanning seven regular season matches with the last setback to No. 64 Collin Altamirano of Virginia 6-4, 6-2 on March 26, 2017 … Redshirt junior Alvarez has won his last four regular season ACC decisions, last falling to No. 8 Ryan Shane of Virginia on April 3, 2016.
Three Clinches for Mateas
Mateas leads the Blue Devils with three matches clinched this season, capturing the fourth point against Kentucky, No. 22 Notre Dame and Virginia Tech … Of Duke’s last six victories, Mateas has clinched three … Dickerson, a junior, and sophomore Robert Levine are tied for second on the team in clinches with two apiece.
Three of Four Ranked Victories
Of Mateas’ last four decisions, three have been wins against ranked opponents … Mateas defeated No. 40 Ryotaro Matsumura of Kentucky to clinch the match against the Wildcats … Three matches later versus Notre Dame, Mateas came back to defeat No. 118 Guillermo Cabrera 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 (4) to clinch … Sunday against Virginia Tech, Mateas downed No. 117 Jason Kros 6-3, 6-3 to clinch the match … Mateas’ only setback during the stretch was a 6-4, 6-2 loss to No. 33 Runhao Hua of Michigan.
Three Straight in the Top 51 for Alvarez
Alvarez enters Saturday’s match with a team-high five-match winning streak … The last two wins have been against ranked foes and Alvarez has picked up three consecutive victories against top-51 opponents this spring … Alvarez began the year clinching the match at Arizona State with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory against No. 51 Michael Geerts … Alvarez evened the match against Notre Dame with another three-set comeback, downing No. 28 Alex Lebedev 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 … Sunday versus Virginia Tech, Alvarez tallied Duke’s final point with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 29 Mitch Harper … Alvarez leads Duke with three wins against top-100 ranked opponents … Last spring, which Alvarez missed due to injury, Furman led Duke with four wins versus ranked opponents.
A Pair of 6-0, 6-0 Wins
Sunday against Virginia Tech, Duke dropped the doubles point but quickly took a 2-1 lead with 6-0, 6-0 wins from sophomore Stachowiak and freshman Sean Sculley … Neither had recorded a 6-0, 6-0 win this season prior to Sunday’s victories … The 6-0, 6-0 victories were the first by a Blue Devil in an ACC match since TJ Pura downed Boston College’s Kent Mukai on March 24, 2017 … The ACC match was Duke’s first with two 6-0, 6-0 decisions since Smith became head coach in 2008.
Strong Against the State
A year ago, Duke went 4-2 versus in-state squads, defeating Elon, N.C. Central, Charlotte and N.C. State and falling to No. 5 North Carolina and No. 2 Wake Forest … So far this year, Duke is 1-0 in such matchups, beating N.C. Central 5-1 … In the last five-plus years, Duke is a combined 24-9 (.727 winning percentage) versus in-state opponents … Duke is 23-1 (.958 winning percentage) during Smith’s nine-plus years against North Carolina schools that are not in the ACC … The Blue Devils’ lone loss was a 4-3 setback to Elon on January 17, 2014, in the season-opening match.
Looking for 2-0 in the ACC
While Duke has won nine of its last 11, 19 of its last 22 and 23 of its last 27 ACC openers, the Blue Devils have not started the league season 2-0 since 2014, when the team defeated N.C. State and Virginia Tech.
Duke at No. 12 in Oracle/ITA Poll with Alvarez Climbing in Singles Rankings
After splitting matches last week, the Blue Devils fell two spots to No. 12 in this week’s Oracle/ITA rankings … The new singles rankings came out with Duke’s Alvarez up to No. 25 from No. 32.
Last Time Out
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 … 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 Lapidus and Dickerson turned a 3-3 tie against Kros and Freddy Mesmer into a 6-3 win … Virginia Tech evened the doubles action on court two, where Harper and Carlo Donato downed Alvarez and Mateas, 6-4 … For the Blue Devils’ second straight match, the point came down to court one, where Henrik Korsgaard and Alexandre Ribeiro took down Stachowiak and freshman Sculley, 7-6 (5) … The Blue Devils quickly took a 2-1 lead as Stachowiak and Sculley won their singles matches 6-0, 6-0 … Dickerson pushed Duke’s lead to 3-1 with a 6-1, 6-1 triumph against Mesmer on court six … Mateas provided the clinching point with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 117 Kros on court two … Virginia Tech stopped the point streak with a 6-2, 6-3 victory by Ribeiro against sophomore Furman on court three … 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.
Duke takes a spring break trip to Lake Nona, Fla., where the Blue Devils will play TCU at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 13.