CARY, N.C. – An early 1-0 lead with the doubles point was not enough for the No. 29 Duke men’s tennis team as it dropped a 4-1 decision to No. 11 Florida State on Friday at the Cary Tennis Park in the ACC Championship quarterfinals. The Blue Devils took the close doubles point, but the Seminoles responded with five opening sets in singles en route to the victory.
The Blue Devils trailed 3-1, but the tide seemed to be turning Duke’s way with a lead in the third set on court two and looking to be on the verge of a deciding set on court six. Florida State responded with a hold and break on court four to clinch the match.
“Singles, we just didn’t compete on a couple of courts and that hurt us,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “We made a nice push there at the end and had some chances. We let a couple of courts get away too quickly and you can’t do that against a good team.”
Duke picked up the doubles point with a rally after Florida State took the first decision. The Seminoles won on court three while the Blue Devils earned wins on courts one and two. On three, juniors Ryan Dickerson and Jason Lapidus dropped a 6-2 decision to Terrell Whitehurst and Jose Gracia. The Duke pair was broken in the first game and fell behind 2-0 and 5-1 before FSU finished it off for the win. Dickerson and Lapidus slip to 11-7.
The Blue Devils evened the action in doubles with a 6-4 victory by No. 39 Nicolas Alvarez and Catalin Mateas against No. 62 Guy Iradukunda and Alex Knaff. With the set even at 1-1, Duke went on a break, hold and break run to go ahead 4-1. The Seminole pair answered with a break and hold to make it a 4-3 set. Florida State trailed by one game at 5-4, but Alvarez served out for the win. Alvarez and Mateas improve to 9-4 overall and are 5-0 versus ranked pairs this season. The Blue Devil tandem has also won six consecutive decisions.
Duke finished the doubles comeback with a 7-5 win by freshman Sean Sculley and sophomore Nick Stachowiak against Aziz Dougaz and Lucas Poullain 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 14-12 overall and won both of its ACC Championship matches to clinch the doubles point.
“That was a great doubles point,” Smith said. “It came down to court two, just like it did last time. We couldn’t push through in the regular season, but we did a phenomenal job of fighting through that and getting a huge win to get the doubles point.”
Florida State rallied in singles with two quick decisions to go ahead 2-1. On court three, No. 43 Poullain earned a 6-0, 6-0 decision against No. 104 Mateas, a junior, while court five had Knaff top sophomore Spencer Furman 6-0, 6-1. Mateas dips to 12-14. Furman is now 15-14.
Court one had the Seminoles take a 3-1 advantage as No. 34 Dougaz defeated No. 17 Alvarez 7-6 (5), 6-1. Neither side registered a break in the opening set and it headed to the tiebreaker. Redshirt junior Alvarez trailed 2-1, but won consecutive points to go up 3-2. Dougaz responded with three-straight points to lead 5-3. Alvarez got a point back to trail 5-4 and again by one at 6-5, but Dougaz held on for the win. The second set had Dougaz take a 3-0 lead and never look back. Alvarez falls to 14-8 and 7-5 versus nationally ranked foes.
The clinching point for Florida State came from court four, where Gracia topped sophomore Robert Levine, 7-6, 7-5. The first set was even throughout with neither side able to register a break with Gracia taking the tiebreaker. The second set went from a 2-2 tie into a 5-2 Gracia advantage. Levine answered with a hold, break and hold run to knot the set at 5-5. Gracia held and broke to end the match. Levine dips to 15-10.
The Blue Devils now await their NCAA Team Championship fate with the selection show set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
#11 Florida State 4, #29 Duke 1
April 27, 2018 at Cary, N.C. (Cary Tennis Park)
1. #39 Nicolas Alvarez/Catalin Mateas (DU) def. #62 Guy Iradukunda/Alex Knaff (FS) 6-4
2. Nick Stachowiak/Sean Sculley (DU) def. Aziz Dougaz/Lucas Poullain (FS) 7-5
3. Jose Gracia/Terrance Whitehurst (FS) def. Ryan Dickerson/Jason Lapidus (DU) 6-2
1 #34 Aziz Dougaz (FS) def. #17 Nicolas Alvarez (DU) 7-6 (7-5), 6-1
2. #41 Guy Iradukunda (FS) vs. #116 Nick Stachowiak (DU) 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 0-1, unfinished
3. #43 Lucas Poullain (FS) def. #104 Catalin Mateas (DU) 6-0, 6-0
4. Jose Gracia (FS) def. Robert Levine (DU) 7-6, 7-5
5. Alex Knaff (FS) def. Spencer Furman (DU) 6-0, 6-1
6. Chase Wood (FS) vs. Sean Sculley (DU) 6-4, 1-4, unfinished
Duke 16-13; National ranking #29
Florida State University 27-3; National ranking #11
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (3,5,1,4)
ACC Championship Quarterfinal