URBANA, ILL. – The ninth-seeded Duke men’s tennis team had its run in the 2013 NCAA Div. 1 Men’s Tennis Championship cut short with a 4-0 loss to top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals Saturday afternoon at the Kahn Outdoor Tennis Center.
The Blue Devils conclude the 2013 season with a 25-6 record, matching the 1999, 2000 and 2012 squads for the second most wins in program history. Duke also made the program’s eighth appearance in the tournament quarterfinals and the second consecutive.
The Blue Devils dropped the doubles point for the second consecutive match and for the sixth time this season, as the Bruins picked up wins at positions one and three to take the crucial opening point. At the top spot, senior Henrique Cunha and sophomore Raphael Hemmeler, the No. 2 tandem in the nation, dropped the first four games of their match against the No. 42 pair of Dennis Novikov and Marcos Giron, before Cunha held serve, 4-1. The next two games saw the teams split breaks, as UCLA retained its two break lead. Cunha and Hemmeler pushed to close the gap to 7-6, before the Bruins held serve to preserve the 8-6 win. Cunha and Hemmeler end their streak of 16 consecutive matches won on the season, as they own a 36-4 ledger.
At the No. 2 position, freshman Michael Redlicki and sophomore Jason Tahir won an early break to go up, 3-1, before the UCLA tandem of Adrien Puget and Karue Sell brought the match back to serve, 4-5. The teams traded service games and the match was ultimately decided in a tiebreak. The Bruins tandem won the first six points in the tiebreak, but Redlicki and Tahir fought off five consecutive match points before falling, 9-8 (5). The win from Pugell and Sell clinched the doubles point for UCLA.
The Blue Devils came out fighting in singles, winning the first set in four of the six matches.
UCLA extended its lead to 2-0 after Sell defeated Tahir at No. 6 singles, 6-0, 6-2. Tahir concludes the season at 30-5, including a 23-2 mark in dual matches.
At the top position, Cunha, the 2013 ACC Player of the Year, had his 19-match winning streak snapped with a 6-4, 6-4 loss to 27th-ranked Novikov. In the first set, Cunha dropped a break, 5-4, before Novikov held serve to win the set. The senior opened the second set by holding serve and the two players traded breaks. Novikov was able to win the decisive break, 5-4, before holding serve to close out the match. Cunha concludes his final dual season with a 19-1 record.
A product of Hawthorn Woods, Ill., Redlicki was able to win the first five games of the match over Puget and went on to capture the first set, 6-1. In the second set, Puget responded by winning the first three games and earning a second break to close out the set, 6-2. In the decisive third set, the two players held serve the first three games, before Puget was able to break the Duke freshman two straight service games to take a commanding 5-1 lead. Puget held serve to win the match, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1, to clinch the match for the Bruins.
At the No. 2 position, Saba captured the first set over Giron, 6-3, and the two players were in the second set, before the match was left unfinished, 6-3, 5-6. Junior Chris Mengel was able to fight off three set points from UCLA’s Dennis Mkrtchian to win the first set in a tiebreak, 7-6 (7), before the match was left unfinished, 7-6 (7), 2-1. Sophomore Raphael Hemmeler captured the first set in a tiebreak, 7-6 (3), and was ahead in the second set, before the match was left unfinished, 7-6 (3), 4-3.
Duke will have five representatives in the NCAA Individual Championships, which begin May 27. Cunha, Saba and Redlicki will represent the Blue Devils in the singles field, comprised of 64 individuals. In doubles, Cunha and Hemmeler, as well as the No. 19 tandem of Redlicki and Tahir will play in the 32-team field. The event will mark the final tournament for Cunha, the squad’s lone senior.
No. 1 UCLA 4 – No. 9 Duke 0
1. #27 Dennis Novikov (UCLA) def. #9 Henrique Cunha (DUKE) 6-4, 6-4
2. #43 Fred Saba (DUKE) vs. #25 Marcos Giron (UCLA) 6-3, 5-5*
3. #22 Adrien Puget (UCLA) def. #46 Michael Redlicki (DUKE) 1-6, 6-2, 6-1
4. #121 Chris Mengel (DUKE) vs. #75 Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA) 7-6(7), 2-1*
5. #74 Raphael Hemmeler (DUKE) vs. #119 Clay Thompson (UCLA) 7-6(3), 4-3*
6. Karue Sell (UCLA) def. Jason Tahir (DUKE) 6-0, 6-2
1. #42 Giron/Novikov (UCLA) def. #2 Cunha/Hemmeler (DUKE) 8-6
2. #77 Puget/Sell (UCLA) def. #19 Tahir/Redlicki (DUKE) 9-8(5)
3. Brigham/Thompson (UCLA) vs. Saba/Semenzato (DUKE) 6-6*
Order of Finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (6,1,3)