Henrique Cunha and sophomore Raphael Hemmeler won the doubles title at the ITA Carolina Regional Championships Monday morning, as the Duke men’s tennis team completed play at the event held at the Cary Tennis Park. With the win, the duo earns an automatic bid to play in the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., Nov. 8-11.CARY, N.C. - Senior
“I am really happy for Henrique (Cunha) and Rafa (Hemmeler). They played some great tennis the whole tournament and they finished strong today with their best match of the week,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “I am especially proud of the way Henrique was able to bounce back from a tough singles loss last night and play so strong today."
The duo of Cunha and Hemmeler topped UNC Wilmington’s Kosta Blank and Chris Cooprider for the doubles title, 6-2, 6-3. The top-seeded team in the tournament and 16th-ranked in the ITA preseason doubles rankings used a break in the second game of the match to gain an early 3-0 advantage on Blank and Cooprider in the first set. The two teams held serve for the next four games, until the Duke team was able to earn a second break in the set to take a 5-2 lead, on their way to winning the first set, 6-2. With the benefit of two breaks in the second set to take a 3-1 advantage, the Blue Devils defeated Blank and Kosta, 6-3. With the win, Hemmeler and Cunha now own an 8-1 doubles record for the fall campaign.
“I think we played pretty well,” said Hemmeler. “It was important to come out and play with high energy from the beginning. We got that break in the second game and that gave us confidence. It is a lot of fun playing with Henrique.”
Cunha, the top-ranked player in the ITA preseason rankings in singles, has now won the ITA Regional doubles title in each of his four seasons at Duke, becoming the first player in the history of the Carolina region to accomplish the feat.
“It means a lot, it is a great accomplishment,” said Cunha, “I am happy about that, but I want to do well in New York and the rest of the season.”
Duke will return to action Nov. 2-4 at the Disney Clay Court Invitational in Orlando, Fla.