“We are looking forward to this weekend,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “It is great to be hosting, it means we are one of the top-15 teams in the country. Three solid teams will be coming and the ultimate goal is to win both matches and advance to Seattle.”
The weekend of play will get underway Friday, as the Blue Devils will face Middle Tennessee State at 10 a.m. This year will mark just the second meeting between Duke and the Blue Raiders, with Duke winning the first matchup, 8-1, on March 20, 1976. Northwestern and Virginia Tech will follow the Duke match at 2 p.m. The losers of the Friday matches will meet Sunday at 9 a.m. in a consolation match.
In singles, a total of 10 ranked players will be competing in Durham this weekend, with Duke boasting six ranked players in No. 11 Henrique Cunha, No. 14 Michael Redlicki, No. 23 Fred Saba, No. 38 Rafael Hemmeler, No. 43 Chris Mengel and No. 123 Jason Tahir. Virginia Tech boasts two ranked players in No. 29 Andreas Bjerrehus and No. 59 Amerigo Contini, while No. 101 Ben Davis represents Middle Tennessee State and No. 108 Raleigh Smith represents Northwestern in the rankings.
The Blue Devils will be the only team competing in Durham with all three of their doubles teams ranked, including the top-ranked pair of Cunha and Hemmeler. Tahir and Redlicki come into the weekend ranked 39th, while the junior pair of Saba and Mengel are ranked No. 37. Virginia Tech boasts one ranked doubles tandem in No. 15 Contini and Bjerrehus.
The team opened its home dual season schedule with a pair of 9-0 victories over Elon and Charlotte last weekend. Cunha became the all-time leader in doubles wins Sunday, after he and Hemmeler downed Jack Williams and Forrest Edwards of Charlotte, 8-2.
All matches this weekend are free to the public. Live video and live stats will be available on GoDuke.com.
2012 ITA Kick-Off Weekend - Schedule of Events
Friday, Jan. 25
(1) Duke vs. (4) Middle Tennessee State, 10 a.m.
(2) Northwestern vs. (3) Virginia Tech, 2 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 26
Championship Match, 6 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 27
Consolation Match, 9 a.m.