DURHAM, N.C. – Freshman Josh Levine clinched the first match of his Duke career, as the ninth-ranked Duke men’s tennis team downed No. 14 Tennessee, 4-1, Friday in front of a packed house of over 800 fans at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. The Blue Devils improved to 7-1 on the season, while the Volunteers fall to 10-1.
“Today was a big win for us,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “I have a lot of respect for Tennessee, they are a great team. We knew it was going to be a battle. I thought we did an amazing job at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles, which set the tone for the match. Our guys fed off the energy from the huge crowd, that is what college tennis is all about.”
Sophomore Jason Tahir claimed the first singles point of the match for the Blue Devils on court five with a convincing 6-0, 6-0 win over Edward Jones, while Raphael Hemmeler defeated John Collins, 6-3, 6-1, in his first appearance of the season in the No. 4 position. Tennessee made the match 3-1 after freshman Michael Redlicki fell to Brandon Fickey, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3, in the No. 3 spot in the lineup.
After trailing in the first set 1-4 and in the sixth game 0-40 to Tennessee’s Taylor Patrick, Levine came storming from behind to win the first set, 7-5. The rookie, who appeared in the No. 6 position for the first time in his Duke career, ended the match for the Blue Devils over Patrick in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3.
“The atmosphere was great, the experience was amazing,” said Levine after the win. “Everybody is pushing for you and it fired me up a little more. I wanted to win just not for myself but for the team, for the University and they [the crowd] really pushed me through.”
No. 11 senior Henrique Cunha was tied at a set apiece in his match at the No. 1 position in the lineup against ninth-ranked Mikelis Libietis, before the match was left unfinished in the third set, 7 (6), 4-6, 2-0, while junior Fred Saba was tied at 3-all in the decisive set of his match on court two against Hunter Reese of Tennessee before it was left unfinished, 6-3, 4-6, 3-3.
The Blue Devils managed to pick up their eighth consecutive doubles point to begin the season, as Redlicki and Tahir won their match on court two, 8-2, over Jones and Collins. Freshman Bruno Semenzato made the first doubles start of his Duke career, as Tennessee’s Fickey and Hunter Reese defeated Saba and Semenzato on court three, 8-3.
In a thrilling match on court one, the top-ranked duo of Cunha and Hemmeler clinched the doubles point for the team with an 8-6 victory over No. 26 Libietis and Chaplin. With Cunha serving at 40-0 in the game, Hemmeler was able to end the match with a smash at the net that bounced between Libietis and Chaplin. The pair posted a victory for the 15th consecutive match dating back to the fall. The duo now owns a perfect 7-0 record against ranked opponents for the season.
“They came through in the clutch again,” said Smith. “They are No. 1 in the country, but they are playing great teams that are gunning for them every match. I feel good about their chemistry right now and they came through in the big points tonight. That is what both of those guys do really well.”
Up next, the Duke men’s tennis team will return to Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center to play a doubleheader Sunday, Feb. 10, beginning at noon against No. 21 Michigan and at 5 p.m. against cross-town rival N.C. Central.
Tennis Match Results
Tennessee vs Duke
Feb 08, 2013 at Durham, N.C.
(Sheffield Tennis Center)
#9 Duke 4, #14 Tennessee 1
1. #11 Henrique Cunha (DU) vs. #9 Mikelis Libietis (TENN) 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 2-0, unfinished
2. #23 Fred Saba (DU) vs. #40 Hunter Reese (TENN) 6-3, 4-6, 3-3, unfinished
3. Brandon Fickey (TENN) def. #14 Michael Redlicki (DU) 1-6, 6-1, 6-3
4. #38 Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. John Collins (TENN) 6-3, 6-1
5. #123 Jason Tahir (DU) def. Edward Jones (TENN) 6-0, 6-0
6. Josh Levine (DU) def. Taylor Patrick (TENN) 7-5, 6-3
1. #1 Henrique Cunha/Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. #26 Jarryd Chaplin/Mikelis Libietis (TENN) 8-6
2. #39 Michael Redlicki/Jason Tahir (DU) def. Edward Jones/John Collins (TENN) 8-2
3. Brandon Fickey/Hunter Reese (TENN) def. Fred Saba/Bruno Semenzato (DU) 8-3
Tennessee 10-1; National ranking #14
Duke 7-1; National ranking #9
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (5,4,3,6)