SEATTLE, WASH. - Freshman Michael Redlicki helped seal the doubles point and after falling, 1-6, in the opening set of his singles match the rookie went on to clinch the ninth-ranked Duke men's tennis team win over No. 5 Pepperdine Sunday, 4-1, to close out play in the consolation round at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship at the Seattle Tennis Club. The Blue Devils conclude the indoor portion of their schedule with an 11-2 record, while Pepperdine falls to 6-2 on the season.
"I saw the true character of our team tonight," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "I couldn't be prouder of my guys. They put absolutely everything into that match and competed like champions. We've been battling some adversity recently, and it makes this win especially sweet."
The contest opened with three exciting matches won by two games or less in the doubles portion of the match. The Blue Devils claimed the first win of the opening point at the third position after the junior pair of Fred Saba and Chris Mengel defeated David Sofaer and Mousheg Hovhannisyan, 8-6. The Waves countered with a win at the No. 1 spot, as second-ranked Henrique Cunha and Raphael Hemmeler were edged by Finn Tearney and Francis Alcantara, 6-8.
With the deciding match being played at the No. 2 position, the duo of Jason Tahir and Redlicki clinched the doubles point for Duke with a narrow 8-7 decision over Sebastian Fanselow and Alex Sarkissian. The win is the duo's fourth consecutive win and they now own a 17-4 mark for the season.
Pepperdine evened the team score at one by taking the first singles match of the contest on court four, after Mengel was unable to recover from a slow start and was defeated by Alcantara, 6-1, 6-3. Minutes later, Hemmeler reclaimed the lead for the Blue Devils as he defeated Hovhannisyan, 6-2, 6-4. The win for Hemmeler is his team-leading 21st win of the season, as the sophomore owns a perfect 7-0 ledger from the fifth position. At the No. 6 position, Tahir gave the team a 3-1 lead in the match after he defeated Sofaer, 6-4, 6-4. A product of Rochester, N.Y., Tahir remains unbeaten when playing in the No. 6 spot in the singles lineup, with a 5-0 record for the season.
After dropping the first set of his match 1-6, Redlicki, a product of Hawthorn Woods, Ill., bounced back in a big way for the Blue Devils to clinch the match in a decisive third set over Sarkissian, 1-6, 7-6, 6-4. The rookie now owns an 8-3 record in dual matches this season.
In the No. 1 position, Cunha was on serve in the third frame of his match at 5-all, before the match was ultimately left unfinished, 3-6, 6-4, 5-5, while Saba's match in the second position was also left unfinished in a decisive third set, 6-2, 7-6.
Duke concludes play at the ITA National Team Indoors with a 2-1 record for the third consecutive season, defeating No. 8 Oklahoma, 4-0, and No. 5 Pepperdine, 4-1, while falling to top-ranked Virginia, 4-0. The Blue Devils picked up their first win over the Waves since January 29, 2011, a 4-3 decision.
Up next, Duke will begin the outdoor portion of its schedule, as it hosts Virginia Commonwealth at Ambler Tennis Stadium on Tuesday, March 5 at 2 p.m., before concluding the non-conference portion of the schedule on the road Sunday, March 11 against Cal.-Berkeley at 4 p.m. ET.
2013 ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship
Hosted by the University of Washington
(5) Pepperdine vs. (9) Duke
Feb. 17, 2013 at Seattle, Wash.
No. 9 Duke 4, No. 5 Pepperdine 1
1. Tearney/Alcantara (PEP)def. #2 Cunha/Hemmeler (DUKE), 8-6
2. #18 Redlicki/Tahir (DUKE) def. Fanselow/Sarkissian (PEP), 8-7
3. #33 Saba/Mengel (DUKE) def. Sofaer/Hovhannisyan (PEP), 8-6
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2
1. #4 Sebastian Fanselow (PEP) vs. #9 Henrique Cunha (DUKE), 6-3, 4-6, 5-5 unfinished
2. #105 Finn Tearney (PEP) vs. #31 Fred Saba (DUKE), 2-6, 7-6 unfinished
3. #15 Michael Redlicki (DUKE) def. #89 Alex Sarkissian (PEP), 1-6, 7-6, 6-4
4. Francis Alcantara (PEP) def. #53 Chris Mengel (DUKE), 6-1, 6-3
5. #57 Raphael Hemmeler (DUKE) def. Mousheg Hovhannisyan (PEP), 6-4, 6-2
6. Jason Tahir (DUKE) def. David Sofaer (PEP), 6-4, 6-4
Order of Finish: 4, 5, 6, 3