CARY, N.C. – A three-set rally and a late break in doubles helped the No. 29 Duke men’s tennis team to a 4-2 victory against Clemson in the second round of the ACC Championship Thursday at the Cary Tennis Park. The Blue Devils led 3-0 before Clemson narrowed the gap to 3-2. Junior Catalin Mateas clinched the match with a three-set comeback on court three.
“It was definitely a hard-fought match,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “I give a lot of credit to Clemson. I thought they played extremely well and a lot better than they did against us a couple of weeks ago. They competed extremely hard. It was a tough match from start to finish.”
Mateas, who entered the match as Duke’s most experienced ACC Championship performer, clinched his fourth match of the campaign. The triumph was Mateas’ first in ACC Championship singles action and moved the Blue Devils to 16-12 overall this season.
“We want to take it one match at a time and came out pretty fired up for this one,” Mateas said. “Maybe we didn’t play great in every spot, but everyone competed really well. It started off great with doubles and finished off strong at the end. We’re pumped for tomorrow.”
Three tight doubles matches had two swing in favor of the Blue Devils, who won on courts three and two. On three, juniors Ryan Dickerson and Jason Lapidus were even at 3-3 against Marshall Dagostine and Sam Edwards before ripping off the final three games for the victory. Dickerson and Lapidus up their overall mark to 11-6.
Freshman Sean Sculley and sophomore Nick Stachowiak picked up the deciding 7-5 win with a late break against Carlos Kelaidis and Yizhou Liu on court two. The two teams held serve throughout as neither led by more than one game. With a 5-5 set, Sculley and Stachowiak broke and held to earn the decision. The pair is now 13-12 overall.
“Doubles was extremely close,” Smith added. “We pulled away a little bit at the very end. In singles, Clemson got the leads early on a couple of courts so we never really felt like we were ahead. We hung in there and had some really good performances there at the end.”
Duke pushed its advantage to 2-0 as sophomore Robert Levine won a quick 6-3, 6-1 decision against Kelaidis on court four. In the opening set, Levine led 4-2 before Kelaidis made it a 4-3 contest. Levine picked up the last two games to take the set. In the second set, Levine was ahead 4-0 before Kelaidis got his lone game. Levine bumps up his record to 15-9.
Sculley pushed the advantage to 3-0 with a 6-3, 6-1 victory versus Dagostine on court six. Sculley led 4-1 in the opening set, but Dagostine made it just a 4-3 deficit. Sculley had the answer with the last two games to pick up the win. The second set was even at 1-1 before Sculley blazed through the final five games to win the match. Sculley improves to 18-12 overall.
“Those were huge matches,” Smith said of Levine and Sculley. “Robert was superb from start to finish. That was a big point for us. Sean followed and we got up 3-0 on the scoreboard. Normally that looks pretty good, but we were in dogfights the rest of the matches.”
Clemson got its first point to trail 3-1 from court one, where Simon Baudry defeated redshirt junior Nicolas Alvarez, 6-3, 6-2. Baudry broke early in the first set to take a 3-1 advantage. No. 17 Alvarez had the deficit down to 3-2 and 4-3, but Baudry won the final two games. Baudry extended his streak to seven consecutive games by taking the first five of the second set. Alvarez got two games back, but Baudry broke for the match. Alvarez dips to 14-7 overall.
The Tigers made it a 3-2 affair when Edwards defeated sophomore Spencer Furman, 6-3, 6-3 on court five. The two were even at 2-2 in the opening set before Edwards broke and held to go up 4-2. Furman made it a 4-3 deficit, but Edwards won the final two games. Edwards opened the second set with three straight wins to lead 3-0. Furman trimmed the deficit to 3-2 and 5-3, but Edwards served out for the win. Furman falls to 15-13.
Mateas provided the win with a 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory on court three against Liu. After lopsided sets for each, the third set was a back-and-forth battle. The final set was even at 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3 as Mateas broke to go up 2-1, only to have Liu break back and knot the set. With the 3-3 tie, Mateas went on a break, hold and break run for the win. He ups his record to 12-13 and snaps a five-match losing streak.
“Catalin got blown out in the first set, but clawed his way back in there,” Smith added. “He has been through a lot and played in a lot of big matches. I’m really proud of the way he battled. He competed great at the end to get a big win for us.”
“I played completely different,” Mateas said of his strategy after the first set. “I changed my game a little bit and gave him a different look. It ended up working out for me. I just kept competing and put a lot of balls on the court. It went my way today.”
Duke takes on No. 11 Florida State in the quarterfinals at 5 p.m. Friday.
#29 Duke 4 Clemson 2
April 26, 2018 at Cary, N.C. (Cary Tennis Park)
1. #39 Nicolas Alvarez/Catalin Mateas (DU) vs. #58 Simon Baudry/Alex Favrot (CU) 6-6, unfinished
2. Nick Stachowiak/Sean Sculley (DU) def. Carlos Kelaidis/Yizhou Liu (CU) 7-5
3. Ryan Dickerson/Jason Lapidus (DU) def. Marshall Dagostine/Sam Edwards (CU) 6-3
1. Simon Baudry (CU) def. #17 Nicolas Alvarez (DU) 6-3, 6-2
2. #116 Nick Stachowiak (DU) vs. #73 Alex Favrot (CU) 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 1-0, unfinished
3. #104 Catalin Mateas (DU) def. Yizhou Liu (CU) 1-6, 6-1, 6-3
4. Robert Levine (DU) def. Carlos Kelaidis (CU) 6-3, 6-1
5. Sam Edwards (CU) def. Spencer Furman (DU) 6-3, 6-3
6. Sean Sculley (DU) def. Marshall Dagostine (CU) 6-3, 6-1
Duke 16-12; National ranking #29
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (4,6,1,5,3)
ACC Championship Second Round