DURHAM, N.C. – Senior Henrique Cunha captured impressive wins in doubles and singles, as the ninth-ranked Duke men’s tennis team downed Coastal Carolina, 4-0, Friday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Team Championships at Ambler Tennis Stadium. Duke improves to 23-5 on the season and moves on to face UNC Wilmington in the second round. The match has been moved to a noon start time, due to the threat of inclement weather.
“First off, congrats to Coastal Carolina and their head coach Chris Powers, who has done a really good job with this team,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “There were some tight second sets today and Coastal fought extremely hard. I thought it was a good effort from us and a good start to our NCAA tournament.”
The Blue Devils opened the match by winning the doubles point for the 22nd time this season with wins on courts one and two. Cunha and sophomore Raphael Hemmeler captured the first match of the day for Duke at the No. 1 position with an 8-4 win over Garik Yedigarian and Matias Di Pasquale. The duo got off to a strong start by winning the first four games of the match.
Moments later, junior Fred Saba and freshman Bruno Semenzato sealed the opening point with an 8-4 win on court two over Coastal Carolina’s John Karle and Leo Christofides. The duo used an early break to jump out to a 3-0 advantage and cruised from there.
In singles, Cunha overmatched Kusuda, 6-0, 6-0 to give Duke a 2-0 advantage, as he was playing in front of family and friends who flew in from Brazil earlier this week. With the win, Cunha equals the 147 singles wins posted by Kathy Sell Smith for the second most in Duke tennis history, male or female. The win is Cunha’s 18th consecutive dating back to the fall, as he owns a 30-3 record.
“It is my last year and my last couple of matches, it is really special to have them [friends and family] here,” said Cunha. “I think I played well from start to finish. I was feeling the ball serving, good second serves. I felt like I didn’t give him a lot of free points, which was the key today.”
In his match on court six, Semenzato cruised in the first set of his match against Hunter Whalen, 6-1. In the second frame, Semenzato was able to win the first break to take a 3-2 advantage. The sophomore went up a second break, 5-2, before holding serve to win the match, 6-1, 6-2. The win is Semenzato’s third of the season.
“I handled the important points really well,” said Semenzato. “I had a couple of really long games and I just found a way to win those games. I tried to stay patient and play solid the entire match and wait for the right shot to finish the points.”
At the No. 3 position, Hemmeler won the first set over Yedigarian, 6-3. In the second set, the sophomore and Yedigarian battled to a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, Hemmeler gained the early advantage, before closing out the match for Duke with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) win. The win is Hemmeler’s team-leading 33rd of the season, as the sophomore 23-3 record in the dual season.
At the No. 2 position, Saba and Christofides were in a decisive third set before the match was left unfinished, 6-3, 3-6, 1-2. Freshman Josh Levine battled back from a 2-5 deficit in the second set to draw even in his match at the fifth position against Di Pasquale, before the match was left unfinished, 6-4, 5-5. At the No. 4 spot in the lineup, Tahir won the first set and held an advantage in the second frame over Nilsson, before the match was left unfinished, 6-4, 3-2.
Up next, the Blue Devils will return to the courts to take on UNC Wilmington Saturday, May 11 at noon. Ticket prices for all NCAA Championship matches are $5 for adults and $3 for students/seniors. Tickets can be purchased outside the stadium on the day of the match. Parking for tomorrow’s match will be available in the Blue Zone, which can be accessed off Duke University Road.
Tennis Match Results
Coastal Carolina vs Duke
May 10, 2013 at Durham, N.C.
(Ambler Tennis Stadium)
#9 Duke 4, Coastal Carolina 0
1. #9 Henrique Cunha (DU) def. Yusuke Kusuda (COASTAL) 6-0, 6-0
2. #43 Fred Saba (DU) vs. Leo Christofides (COASTAL) 6-1, 3-6, 1-2, unfinished
3. #74 Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. Garik Yedigarian (COASTAL) 6-3, 7-6 (7-2)
4. Jason Tahir (DU) vs. Ted Nilsson (COASTAL) 6-4, 3-2, unfinished
5. Josh Levine (DU) vs. Matias Di Pasquale (COASTAL) 6-4, 5-5, unfinished
6. Bruno Semenzato (DU) def. Hunter Whalen (COASTAL) 6-1, 6-2
1. #2 Henrique Cunha/Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. Garik Yedigarian/Matias Di Pasquale (COASTAL) 8-4
2. Fred Saba/Bruno Semenzato (DU) def. John Karle/Leo Christofides (COASTAL) 8-4
3. Jason Tahir/Daniel McCall (DU) vs. Ted Nilsson/Yusuke Kusuda (COASTAL) 5-4, unfinished
Coastal Carolina 15-6
Duke 23-5; National ranking #9
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (1,6,3)
NCAA Team Championships First Round