DURHAM, N.C. – A brief two-match losing streak was halted by the No. 20 Duke men’s tennis team Friday night inside Ambler Tennis Stadium with a 5-2 victory against Clemson. The Blue Devils took a 3-0 lead and never looked back as sophomore Robert Levine recorded the clinching win on court five to put Duke ahead 4-1.
“That was a very good day for us,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “It was great to be able to be outside. That was really nice. We set the tone well with doubles. We did a better job maintaining that momentum into singles. They had a desperation surge like we thought they would. It got a little bit harry there, but our guys dug in and were able to finish it off. It came down to competing and finding a way. We did that today.”
With the victory, the Blue Devils remained perfect at Ambler this season, going 5-0 outdoors at home. Redshirt junior Nicolas Alvarez returned from Davis Cup action to help the Blue Devils to the victory, securing wins on court one in singles and doubles. Levine continued his hot streak, winning his fifth-straight decision and improving to 6-1 in ACC play.
“I think there has been a really big turnaround from how I was doing the first half of this year to now,” Levine said. “I’ve really picked up a lot of momentum. I’m on a little bit of a streak so I’m just trying to ride it out and keep it going as long as possible."
Duke captured another doubles point on Friday with 6-2 wins on courts three and one. In the third slot, juniors Ryan Dickerson and Jason Lapidus downed Carlos Kelaidis and Marshall Dagostine. Duke broke and held to open the match and take a 2-0 advantage. Clemson cut the deficit to one game at 2-1 and 3-2, but Duke went on a hold, break and hold run to pick up the victory. Dickerson and Lapidus up their overall mark to 8-5 and 2-1 in ACC play.
On court one, Alvarez and junior Catalin Mateas earned their second ranked win of the campaign, topping No. 31 Alex Favrot and Simon Baudry. With a 1-1 tie, the Blue Devils broke on a deuce point and held to go up 3-1. Clemson got a game back, but a hold, break and hold stretch ended the match. Alvarez and Mateas are now 6-4 overall and 3-2 against league foes. The Blue Devil duo is 2-0 on court one and 2-0 versus ranked tandems, providing both of Duke’s ranked doubles wins this season.
🐯 return goes long and Mateas and Alvarez secure their second ranked win of the year with a 6-2 victory vs No. 31 Favrot and Baudry pic.twitter.com/t6N59Uui83— Duke Men's Tennis (@DukeMTEN) April 13, 2018
“That was one of the more complete doubles performances of the year,” Smith said. “We put Nico and Catalin back together after not playing together for a couple matches. I just thought their energy was really good. When they’re both playing well, their games complement each other so well. Catalin did a great job being aggressive on his serve with Nico doing a great job at net. That’s a tough team. That team has beaten us at regionals before. I’m very pleased to get that win, especially a convincing one.”
Duke expanded its lead to 2-0 with No. 16 Alvarez downing No. 64 Favrot, 6-4, 6-2 on court one. In the opening set, Alvarez jumped ahead 3-1 early. Favrot had the deficit at a game twice with breaks, but Alvarez tallied four breaks in the set to hold on for the win. In the second set, Alvarez ripped off four straight games after a 2-2 tie to earn the victory. He improves to 13-4 overall, 8-2 in dual matches and 4-2 in ACC competition. Alvarez upped his mark against top-100 opponents to 6-3.
The Blue Devils tacked on a third point from court six, where Dickerson defeated Reed Rabideau 6-0, 6-2. Dickerson flew through the first seven games before Rabideau knotted the second set at 1-1 and 2-2. Another successful stretch for Dickerson ended the match with four consecutive wins. Dickerson is now 17-12 overall, 10-9 in dual matches and 4-3 in ACC play.
Clemson got its first point from Baudry on court two with a 6-3, 6-2 win versus No. 107 Mateas. Mateas trailed 3-0 in the opening set before rallying to even it at 3-3. Baudry had the response with the final three games for the set. The second set had Mateas again fall behind early, getting down 4-0. He cut the deficit to 5-2, but Baudry served out for the match. Mateas dips to 11-12 overall, 6-9 in dual matches and 4-5 in league action.
Levine secured up the match on court five with a 6-4, 6-4 triumph against Kelaidis. The opening set had Levine open up a 4-1 advantage before Kelaidis got it down to 5-4. Levine served out for the set. In the second set, Levine again led early, getting out to a 3-1 advantage. Kelaidis was within a game at 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4, but Levine held on his serve each time to earn the win. He is now 13-7 overall and 10-6 in dual matches while leading the squad in ACC wins with his six.
“I’m just having a lot more fun, especially as the season goes on,” Levine said of his successful stretch. “It’s a really long season we have so I’m building in some time hanging around the guys, sometimes on the court playing some games. I’m really focusing on enjoying it more. That frees me up on the court. It has really worked from a mental state. I think a lot of it is mental. That feeds into having better practices consistently and that builds on itself. I played a great service game at 5-4 to close it out and that felt really good tonight.”
“Robert has been getting that first set quite a lot recently and it was good to have Ryan in there,” Smith added. “I feel really good with Ryan down on court six. With some other tight sets, it was huge to get a couple sets off early. That gives everybody a lot of confidence.”
The Tigers picked up their final point on court four with Yizhou Liu holding off sophomore Spencer Furman, 6-3, 6-4. Liu led 4-1 in the opening set before Furman closed the gap to 4-2 and 5-3, but Liu served out for the set. Liu again took an early lead in the second set, jumping out 3-0. Furman stormed back with four consecutive games to go up 4-3, but Liu rallied with the final three for the match. Furman falls to 14-12 overall, 4-9 in dual action and 2-6 in ACC play.
The match’s final point came from sophomore Nick Stachowiak with a 6-4, 7-6 (3) victory against Sam Edwards on court three. The two were even at 2-2 in the opening set before Stachowiak went on a three-game run with the help of two breaks. Edwards answered with a break and hold to trail just 5-4, but Stachowiak served out for the win. In the second set, Edwards jumped out to a 3-0 advantage. Stachowiak got it down to 3-2, but Edwards broke and held to seemingly take control at 5-2. Stachowiak rallied again with three-straight games to even the set at 5-5. The two were even at 6-6 and headed to the tiebreaker. With the tiebreaker even at 2-2, Stachowiak won consecutive points to take a lead he would not relinquish. Edwards cut the deficit to 4-3, but Stachowiak tallied the final three points. Stachowiak improves his record to 23-10 overall, 12-7 in dual action and 4-4 in ACC competition.
“That was big for Nick to win that second set,” Smith said. “He was down some set points and just toughed it out. Edwards has a big game and forehand and was taking it to Nick a little bit. He started to be more aggressive and competed great.”
Duke closes out the home portion of the regular season with a 1 p.m. Sunday match against Georgia Tech.
#20 Duke 5, Clemson 2
April 13, 2018 at Durham, N.C. (Ambler Tennis Stadium)
1. Nicolas Alvarez/Catalin Mateas (DU) def. #31 Alex Favrot/Simon Baudry (CU) 6-2
2. Nick Stachowiak/Spencer Furman (DU) vs. Sam Edwards/Yizhou Liu (CU) 5-3, unfinished
3. Ryan Dickerson/Jason Lapidus (DU) def. Carlos Kelaidis/Marshall Dagostine (CU) 6-2
1. #16 Nicolas Alvarez (DU) def. #64 Alex Favrot (CU) 6-4, 6-2
2. Simon Baudry (CU) def. #107 Catalin Mateas (DU) 6-3, 6-2
3. Nick Stachowiak (DU) def. Sam Edwards (CU) 6-4, 7-6 (7-3)
4. Yizhou Liu (CU) def. Spencer Furman (DU) 6-3, 6-4
5. Robert Levine (DU) def. Carlos Kelaidis (CU) 6-4, 6-4
6. Ryan Dickerson (DU) def. Reed Rabideau (CU) 6-0, 6-2
Clemson 9-9, 3-7 ACC
Duke 14-10, 5-4 ACC; National ranking #20
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (1,6,2,5,4,3)
Official: Matthew Dolge T-2:20 A-240