CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. – Junior Fred Saba gave the eighth-ranked Duke men’s tennis team a 3-2 team advantage after defeating No. 1 Alex Domijan, 7-5, 7-5, but the Blue Devils upset bid of top-ranked Virginia came up just short, 4-3, Friday afternoon at the Snyder Tennis Center. The Blue Devils fall to 14-4 overall and 2-1 in conference play, while the Cavaliers improve to 12-0 on the season and 1-0 in ACC play.
“Obviously, we are disappointed that we weren't able to get the team win today,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “We played great in a few spots and had our shots in others. Credit Virginia for closing us out at the end. I am proud of the way we competed at the end, and there are certainly some positives we can take from this match.”
Duke dropped the doubles point for the third time this season, as the team now is 15-3 in capturing the opening point on the year. In a match that featured the two top doubles tandems in the country, the top-ranked duo of senior Henrique Cunha and Raphael Hemmeler bested the No. 2 tandem of Jamere Jenkins and Mac Styslinger, 8-3, at the No. 1 position to win the first doubles match of the afternoon. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers responded by taking the doubles match at the second position, as Alex Domijan and Mitchell Frank defeated the Duke duo of Michael Redlicki and Jason Tahir, 8-3.
In the deciding match on court three, the duo of Justin Shane and Julen Uriguen clinched the opening point for the Cavaliers over the 25th-ranked tandem of Saba and Chris Mengel. The loss for Saba and Mengel is the duo’s third defeat this season, as they own an 18-5 record on the spring.
In singles, the Cavaliers claimed a 2-0 advantage in the match after Virginia’s Frank defeated Redlicki at the No. 3 spot in the lineup, 6-0, 6-0. Duke won its first singles match and earned its first team point of the afternoon at the No. 5 position, as Hemmeler topped Justin Shane in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. The win for Hemmeler is his team-leading 25th victory of the season, including a 15-2 record in the dual season.
The Blue Devils claimed the next two matches to take a 3-2 advantage in the match, after wins from the two top positions in the lineup. At the top spot, Cunha edged fifth-ranked Jenkins in the first set, 6-4, before cruising in the second frame to win the match, 6-4, 6-0. Cunha remains perfect on the season with an 11-0 record at the No. 1 position.
“Cunha continues to have an amazing senior season,” Smith said. “Jenkins has given him trouble in the past but Henrique executed his game plan perfectly today and competed like a champ.”
A native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Saba gave Duke its first lead of the day at the No.2 position after he topped top-ranked Domijan, 7-5, 7-5. The win for Saba is his third over a ranked opponent on the season and the first top-five opponent he has defeated in the spring.
“Obviously, it was the biggest win of my college career,” said Saba after his win over Domijan. “It is not just one match, it has just been a long process in terms of me working harder off the courts to be more mentally stable. Today it all came together and I played a pretty clean match out there.”
Virginia responded by taking the final two matches of the afternoon at the fourth and sixth positions. On court four, after dropping the first set to No. 12 Styslinger, 1-6, Mengel came back strong in the second, but fell just short of sending his match to a decisive third set, falling, 6-1, 7-6 (7). The decisive match of the day was featured on court six, as Tahir battled Uriguen. A native of Rochester, N.Y., Tahir was edged in his tightly contested match by Uriguen, 7-6 (6), 6-4, which sealed the team win for the Cavaliers. The loss for Tahir marks his first of the dual season, as the sophomore falls to 12-1 in the dual season.
Duke will next take to the courts against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., Sunday, March 24 at 1 p.m., before coming home to take on Florida State Saturday, March 30 at 11 a.m.
Tennis Match Results
Duke vs Virginia
Mar 22, 2013 at Charlottesville, Va.
(Snyder Tennis Center)
#1 Virginia 4, #8 Duke 3
1. #10 Henrique Cunha (DU) def. #5 Jarmere Jenkins (VA) 6-4, 6-0
2. #27 Fred Saba (DU) def. #1 Alex Domijan (VA) 7-5, 7-5
3. #81 Mitchell Frank (VA) def. #26 Michael Redlicki (DU) 6-0, 6-0
4. #12 Mac Styslinger (VA) def. #89 Chris Mengel (DU) 6-1, 7-6 (9-7)
5. #55 Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. Justin Shane (VA) 6-3, 6-2
6. Julen Uriguen (VA) def. Jason Tahir (DU) 7-6 (8-6), 6-4
1. #1 Raphael Hemmeler/Henrique Cunha (DU) def. #2 Mac Styslinger/Jarmere Jenkins (VA) 8-3
2. #46 Mitchell Frank/Alex Domijan (VA) def. #9 Michael Redlicki/Jason Tahir (DU) 8-3
3. #27 Julen Uriguen/Justin Shane (VA) def. #25 Chris Mengel/Fred Saba (DU) 8-5
Duke 14-4 (2-1); National ranking #8
Virginia 12-0 (1-0); National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (3,5,1,2,4,6)