RALEIGH, N.C. – An impressive comeback by sophomore Nick Stachowiak proved the clinching point for the No. 17 Duke men’s tennis team in a 6-1 Friday victory at No. 16 N.C. State. Stachowiak, who clinched his first match of the season, trailed 4-1 and 5-2 in the opening set and 5-0 in the second set before finishing off Ivan Saveljic 7-5, 7-5 for the win.
For Duke, the victory marked its first against a top-16 opponent since downing No. 12 Wake Forest 4-3 on March 22, 2015. The win was also the Blue Devils’ first true road win versus a top-16 foe since a 4-3 win at No. 8 Illinois on January 30, 2015.
The win moved Duke to 11-7 this season and 2-1 in ACC play while snapping a two-match skid. The loss drops N.C. State to 10-3 and 0-2 in league action. The Blue Devils also expand their commanding series advantage against the Wolfpack to 104-2.
“This was definitely a big bounce back win for us,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “We had lost two in a row and in a tough stretch of playing all good teams. I was really pleased with everything today. The overall theme of today would definitely be grittiness and battling back. It was an absolute team effort and that’s what we needed today. The atmosphere there at the end when we were deep in the final three sets and needed that one point, each guy felt like the final point was coming down to him and each guy thought he could get it. We were fortunate to win all three matches. The score looks one sided, but it was anything but that.”
Early on, Duke fought back in doubles to take the 1-0 advantage. After dropping the first decision on court one, the Blue Devils won on three and two. On court one, the No. 38 pair of Alexis Galarneau and Michael Ogden topped Stachowiak and sophomore Spencer Furman, 6-4. Duke trailed early 3-1 and could not get the gap to closer than a game at 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4 before N.C. State closed out. Stachowiak and Furman fall to 3-5 overall, 0-3 in dual matches and 0-2 versus league foes.
The court three pair of junior Jason Lapidus and freshman Sean Sculley started the comeback with a 6-4 victory against Georgiy Malyshev and Tadas Babelis. It was Duke with the early 3-1 advantage and the Wolfpack unable to catch up as Lapidus and Sculley held leads of 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4 before finishing the match. The Blue Devil duo improves to 5-1 overall, 2-1 in dual action and 2-0 in ACC play.
A tiebreaker on court two determined the point with junior Catalin Mateas and redshirt junior Nicolas Alvarez coming away with a 7-6 (2) victory against No. 45 Ivan Saveljic and Igor Saveljic. Mateas and Alvarez trailed 3-2 before holding and breaking to take a 4-3 advantage. N.C. State answered immediately with a break to even the set at 4-4. It was tied at 5-5 and 6-6 and headed to the tiebreaker. Mateas and Alvarez even their overall record at 4-4 and bump up to 1-2 against conference competition. The victory was the pair’s first against a ranked duo this season and just the second for Duke this season versus a ranked tandem.
“Doubles could have gone either way,” Smith said. “We were down double match point on court two, but Nico and Catalin were able to get it to a tiebreaker. They played an incredible breaker for the win.”
Junior Ryan Dickerson pushed Duke’s lead to 2-0 overall with a 6-1, 6-3 victory against Robert Turzak on court six. Dickerson hopped ahead 3-0 in the opening set and never looked back. The second set he led 2-0 and 3-1. Turzak closed the gap to one at 4-3, but Dickerson took the last two for the match. Dickerson improves to 15-10 overall, 8-7 in dual action and 2-1 in league play.
N.C. State got its lone point from the top position, where No. 22 Galarneau defeated No. 25 Alvarez 6-3, 6-4. In the opening set, Galarneau took a 4-1 lead with Alvarez getting no closer than 4-2 and 5-3. In the second set, Alvarez won the first game before Galarneau took the next two. Alvarez trailed 4-2 before evening the set at 4-4. Galarneau answered again with the last two games for the match. The loss snaps Alvarez’s winning streak at six matches and is his first setback in a dual match. Alvarez is now 11-3 overall, 6-1 in dual competition and 2-1 in league matches.
Duke regained its two-point cushion at 3-1 overall with a court five 6-4, 6-2 victory from sophomore Robert Levine against Malyshev. In the opening set, Levine, playing his first ACC match of the campaign, turned a 1-1 tie into a 3-1 advantage. Malyshev cut the deficit to one game three times at 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4 but could not force the tie as Levine held on. The second set was even at 1-1 and 2-2 before Levine ran off the final four games of the match. Levine improves to 8-6 overall and 5-5 in dual matches.
“There were lots of momentum shifts today,” Smith added. “After the doubles point, N.C. State bounced back strong. I was really pleased with courts five and six. They were huge for us. Robert got in for the first time in a while and was an absolute machine. He had had some tough losses earlier this season and has been fighting back from injuries. Today, he was locked in and ready from point one. It was a great performance. Ryan had struggled in a couple matches recently, but he was ready to play today. Those two points were huge for us.”
Stachowiak turned in the uphill comeback against Ivan Savejlic for the clinching win. Stachowiak improves to 22-6 overall, 11-3 in dual matches and 3-0 in ACC matches.
Mateas pushed the lead to 5-1 with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory versus Igor Saveljic on court two. In the opening set, Mateas trailed 2-0 and 3-1. He cut the deficit to 3-2, but Saveljic took the final four games. In the second set, Saveljic turned a 1-1 tie into a 4-1 lead, but Mateas rallied with the final five games to force a third set. Mateas led 3-0 in the final set, but Saveljic had the answer with three straight wins to even the set at 3-3. Mateas responded again with three consecutive wins to end the match. Mateas ups his records to 10-7 overall, 5-4 in dual matches and 3-0 versus ACC foes. The victory was also Mateas’ 10th straight in ACC regular season competition, tied for the sixth-longest streak in program history.
“Catalin was down 6-2, 4-1 and facing a double break, but he competed great,” Smith said. “It was an incredible effort from him. Igor was playing some great tennis. We made a tactical adjustment and Catalin buckled down. He had a really tough match against TCU, probably one of the worst of his college career, and had a rough start today, but I’m really proud of him for being able to hang in there and win a huge match.”
The final point went for Furman, who topped Babelis 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 for the 6-1 final score. In the first set, Furman flipped a 1-1 tie into a 3-1 lead. Babelis got a game back to trail 3-2, but Furman ran off the final three games. The second set again had Furman lead 3-1, but Babelis took three straight to lead 4-3. Furman tied the set at 4-4, but Babelis won the final two. The final set had Babelis lead 2-0 before Furman ripped off four straight games to take a 4-2 advantage. Babelis got a game back at 4-3 and 5-4, but Furman held on for the win. Furman improves to 13-8 overall, 3-5 in dual matches and 1-2 against league competition.
Duke continues ACC action within North Carolina, traveling to No. 1 Wake Forest for a 4 p.m. Wednesday match.
#17 Duke 6, #16 N.C. State 1
March 16, 2018 at Raleigh, N.C. (J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center)
1. #38 Alexis Galarneau/Michael Ogden (ST) def. Nick Stachowiak/Spencer Furman (DU) 6-4
2. Catalin Mateas/Nicolas Alvarez (DU) def. #45 Ivan Saveljic/Igor Saveljic (ST) 7-6 (7-2)
3. Jason Lapidus/Sean Sculley (DU) def. Georgiy Malyshev/Tadas Babelis (ST) 6-4
1. #22 Alexis Galarneau (ST) def. #25 Nicolas Alvarez (DU) 6-3, 6-4
2. Catalin Mateas (DU) def. Igor Saveljic (ST) 2-6, 6-4, 6-3
3. Spencer Furman (DU) def. Tadas Babelis (ST) 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
4. Nick Stachowiak (DU) def. Ivan Saveljic (ST) 7-5, 7-5
5. Robert Levine (DU) def. Georgiy Malyshev (ST) 6-4, 6-2
6. Ryan Dickerson (DU) def. Robert Turzak (ST) 6-1, 6-3
Duke 11-7, 2-1 ACC; National ranking #17
NC State 10-3, 0-2 ACC; National ranking #16
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (6,1,5,4,2,3)