DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 12 Duke men’s tennis team (10-6) takes a spring break trip to Florida this week. The Blue Devils will face No. 33 TCU (7-3) at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Campus. It will be Duke’s first trip to the USTA national headquarters, which holds more than 100 courts.
In a unique opportunity, the men’s team will be playing at the same time as the Duke women’s team, which will also be taking on TCU. The USTA’s Collegiate Tennis Area features 12 hard courts with seating for 1,200 people and room for additional seating areas, allowing for simultaneous matches. The area also features a two-story pavilion including concessions and locker rooms.
TCU Series History
Duke owns an 11-5 advantage in the all-time series, but the programs have faced each other just once since 2010 … In the last meeting, the Blue Devils earned a 4-2 victory during the 2015 ITA Team Indoor Championship … Duke was in Fort Worth this season for the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, but the Blue Devils and Horned Frogs did not face each other as Duke won its opening match against Louisville and TCU lost to San Diego … Current redshirt junior Nicolas Alvarez is the only Blue Devil to have faced the Horned Frogs before as he defeated Cameron Norrie 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 on court one to clinch the 2015 contest.
Scouting the Horned Frogs
The Horned Frogs have three top-75 players in No. 30 Alastair Gray, No. 32 Alex Rybakov and No. 72 Trevor Johnson … Gray is 11-4 overall this season, 4-3 versus ranked foes and 3-2 in dual matches, playing most on court three (2-2) … Rybakov has gone 12-3 overall, 5-1 against ranked opponents and 7-1 in dual competition, going 6-1 on court one … Johnson has played on the top two courts in dual matches, going 1-1 on court one and 6-0 in the second position … The doubles pair of Gray and Rybakov is ranked No. 20 and is 2-1 on court No. 1 so far this spring … Three teams have rotated on court two while court three has been anchored by the 4-0 tandem of Bertus Kruger and Reese Stalder.
“TCU has a great team,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “It’s kind of nice because I thought for a moment there we may play TCU twice. It was nice to play two different teams at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Now we get to play TCU at Lake Nona, a nice place to spend the first half of our spring break and, hopefully, get to enjoy some warm weather. I think TCU is a little under ranked right now, but they have some great players. This should be a really good match.”
A Trip to the USTA National Campus
Duke begins its spring break with a Florida adventure that includes Tuesday’s match at the USTA National Campus … The headquarters had ground broken on June 3, 2016, with completion in November of 2017 … The USTA Player Development division also moved its national headquarters from Boca Raton to Orlando … Former Blue Devil Stephen Amritraj helped arrange the simultaneous match with the Duke men’s and women’s programs as he is on staff in Lake Nona as the USTA’s Director of Collegiate Tennis.
“The men’s and women’s simultaneous event should be special,” Smith said. “It’s something unique that I have never been a part of. This new facility is absolutely incredible. The exciting thing for us is that the USTA has shown a commitment to, and invested in, college tennis. They’ve built a wing that’s just for college tennis with the 12 courts where we can have a simultaneous match. The USTA has made it clear that college tennis is a pathway to the pros. Stephen, a Duke tennis alum, is involved at a very high level with the USTA on the college side and is doing a fantastic job there. He really helped make this match possible. We’re excited to be down there and part of it.”
Two More Approaching 50 Wins
Juniors Ryan Dickerson and Catalin Mateas are on the verge of capturing 50 career singles victories … Heading into Tuesday’s match, Dickerson owns 48 career singles wins and Mateas 47 … Dickerson turned in a personal-best 22 wins during the 2016-17 campaign and has topped his 12-victory total from his freshman year already with 14 … Mateas has nine wins this year, but has finished just seven of the 15 dual matches he has started … He has beaten ranked opponents in four of his last five decisions, downing No. 40 Ryotaro Matsumura of Kentucky, No. 118 Guillermo Cabrera of Notre Dame, No. 117 Jason Kros of Virginia Tech and No. 120 Robert Kelly of North Carolina.
20 or More Singles Wins in First Two Years
Sophomore Nick Stachowiak finished the 2016-17 campaign with a team-high 32 singles victories … He has already surpassed the 20-win plateau in 2017-18 and owns a squad-best 21 singles victories so far this season … Stachowiak is the first Blue Devil to have 20 or more singles wins in each of his first two seasons at Duke since TJ Pura in 2013-14 (22) and 2014-15 (22).
No. 1 Goes Down
Alvarez, ranked No. 25, picked up a signature win Saturday against No. 8 North Carolina with an upset of the No. 1 player in the country as he defeated William Blumberg 6-3, 6-4 … The victory for Alvarez was the fifth of his career against a top-10 opponent and the first in a dual match since downing No. 10 Julian Lenz of Baylor 6-4, 6-2 on February 13, 2015 … It was the first time a Blue Devil upended the nation’s top player since Jason Tahir downed Sebastian Stiefelmeyer of Louisville 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 on January 8, 2015 … Alvarez is unbeaten in dual matches at 6-0, 11-2 overall and 4-1 versus nationally ranked opponents.
Top of the Lineup Success
Part of Duke’s overall team success has been due to the strength at the top of the Blue Devil order … Spots one, two and three have all been formidable for Duke this season … In particular, Alvarez (6-0 at No. 1), Stachowiak (2-0 at No. 2 and 5-1 at No. 3) and Mateas (3-2 at No. 2 and 1-0 at No. 3) have been key pieces for the Blue Devils … Overall, Duke is 7-1 on court one, 7-5 on court two and 9-3 on court three.
A Challenging Stretch for Duke
After playing just one of its first eight matches against a ranked opponent, Duke will face the sixth ranked foe in its last nine matches when it takes on TCU … Duke is 1-4 in its last five ranked tilts, falling to No. 2 Ohio State, No. 10 Illinois, No. 8 Michigan and No. 8 North Carolina while picking up a win against No. 22 Notre Dame.
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 the latest Oracle/ITA rankings … The new singles rankings came out with Duke’s Alvarez up to No. 25 from No. 32.
A Full Team Effort
Duke’s elevation to the top 12 has been a full team effort … The Blue Devils are the only squad in the top 17 with just one singles player ranked in the top 125 … In comparison, top-ranked Wake Forest has six within the top 125 … Duke and Oklahoma are the only programs in the top 19 without a ranked doubles team.
Last Time Out
One of the best rivalries in collegiate athletics had another chapter added Saturday as the No. 8 North Carolina men’s tennis team held off No. 12 Duke, 4-3, in a back-and-forth affair at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center … The Tar Heels won the doubles point with decisions on courts two and one … UNC took the first win as the pair of Benjamin Sigouin and Anu Kodali defeated Alvarez and Mateas, 6-2 on court two … Duke tallied its win on court three, where junior Jason Lapidus and freshman Sean Sculley paired for the first time this spring and picked up a 6-3 win against Simon Soendergaard and Mac Kiger … For Duke’s third straight match, the point came down to court one, where No. 6 Blumberg and Robert Kelly took down Stachowiak and sophomore Spencer Furman, 7-5 … The Blue Devils responded quickly, evening the match at 1-1 overall as Stachowiak downed Josh Peck, 6-1, 6-1 on court four … Duke took its only lead of the match at 2-1 overall as No. 25 Alvarez defeated No. 1 Blumberg, 6-3, 6-4, on court one … Minutes later, North Carolina retied the match at 2-2 overall with Blaine Boyden topping Dickerson 6-2, 6-2 on court five … The Tar Heels regained the lead at 3-2 overall with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 win by Kiger against Sculley on court six … The UNC lead did not last long, however, as Mateas defeated No. 120 Kelly 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to even the match at 3-3 … A 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory on court two by No. 39 Sigouin proved to be the final point as he defeated Furman.
Duke returns to North Carolina and ACC play with a 4 p.m. Friday match at No. 25 N.C. State.