DURHAM, N.C. – In a matchup of top-20 teams, 13th-ranked Duke emerged with a 7-0 victory over No. 20 Clemson after nearly four hours of play Friday afternoon at Ambler Tennis Stadium. The Blue Devils earned their fifth consecutive win in ACC action, improving to 15-5 on the spring and 7-1 in conference play.
Duke posted wins on two of the three courts in doubles and pulled out three-set decisions on four courts in singles to ease past the Tigers.
“I was really pleased with the result,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “It was certainly a lot closer than the score. We came through to win four three-set matches in singles and I thought we just competed unbelievably well. We’re in a pretty good place right now and we’ve got some momentum.”
After the Blue Devils’ 61st-ranked tandem of senior Fred Saba and junior Raphael Hemmeler dropped an 8-4 decision to No. 31 Hunter Harrington and Dominique Maden on court one in doubles, Duke rebounded with wins on courts two and three to take an early 1-0 lead in the match.
On court two, junior Jason Tahir and sophomore Josh Levine went down a break but battled back to collect their fourth consecutive victory in an 8-4 defeat of Clemson’s Alejandro Augusto and Robert Dudley. Sophomore Bruno Semenzato and redshirt junior Cale Hammond, who made his return to the courts after suffering an injury to his left hand at San Diego State March 13, followed suit in the No. 3 contest. The Blue Devil duo topped Austin Ansari and Luke Johnson of the Tigers, 8-5, to seal the point for the home squad and move to 2-0 on the season.
“We were in a little bit of a hole,” Smith said of the early doubles play. “Jason and Josh really got fired up and got on a roll. I think that helped our No. 3 team. And that was Cale’s first match in a while. He’s worked extremely hard and he played really well today.”
In singles, Duke took first sets on five of the six courts but saw four contests go into third sets. Freshman TJ Pura extended his unbeaten streak to 11 matches with a quick 6-1, 6-2 victory over Clemson’s Dudley at the No. 6 position. Tahir, the 42nd-ranked player in the ITA singles poll, also won in straight sets on court one with a 6-2, 7-5 decision against No. 56 Harrington. Tahir secured the third 20-win season of his career, moving to 20-7 overall and 5-3 at the top spot in the lineup.
While Duke led 3-0 in the match, the Tigers challenged the home team on the remaining four courts. Hemmeler rallied from a dropped first set in the No. 3 contest to defeat Augusto in three sets, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5. The Zurich, Switzerland native clinched the team victory and moved his record to 17-7 overall and 5-0 at the No. 3 position.
“Clemson is a strong team,” Hemmeler said. “We know they are really deep and great competitors. I think we competed really well – four three-setters against a really tough team and we were able to win every single match. I had a rough start but I just tried to fight through my match and it worked out.”
Leading 6-5 in the decisive set on court five, Levine bested Johnson in a tiebreaker, 7-4, to improve to 28-7 for the season and 6-2 in ACC play. Semenzato, the 88th-ranked player in the country, outlasted Clemson’s Ansari in three sets on court four to pick up his 27th win of the season and 50th-ranked Saba then added a 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 victory over No. 99 Maden in a battle of ranked players on court two to close out the 7-0 victory for the Blue Devils.
Duke continues its weekend homestand Sunday, Apr. 13, welcoming No. 72 Georgia Tech to Ambler for a 1 p.m. contest.
#13 Duke 7, #20 Clemson 0
Apr 11, 2014 at Durham, N.C. (Ambler Tennis Stadium)
1. #31 Hunter Harrington/Dominique Maden (CU) def. #61 Fred Saba/Raphael Hemmeler (DU) 8-4
2. Jason Tahir/Josh Levine (DU) def. Alejandro Augusto/Robert Dudley (CU) 8-4
3. Bruno Semenzato/Cale Hammond (DU) def. Austin Ansari/Luke Johnson (CU) 8-5
1. #42 Jason Tahir (DU) def. #56 Hunter Harrington (CU) 6-2, 7-5
2. #50 Fred Saba (DU) def. #99 Dominique Maden (CU) 7-5, 5-7, 6-2
3. Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. Alejandro Augusto (CU) 5-7, 6-3, 7-5
4. #88 Bruno Semenzato (DU) def. Austin Ansari (CU) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
5. Josh Levine (DU) def. Luke Johnson (CU) 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4)
6. TJ Pura (DU) def. Robert Dudley (CU) 6-1, 6-2
Clemson 18-6 (5-4 ACC); National ranking #20
Duke 15-5 (7-1 ACC); National ranking #13
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (6,1,3,5,4,2)