DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke men’s tennis team logged one of the most successful seasons in program history in 2012-13, closing the season with a 25-6 ledger to match the 1999, 2000 and 2012 squads for the second-most wins in program history. The Blue Devils reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Div. I Men’s Tennis Championship for the second straight season and the eighth time overall.
Blue Devils End Season in Top 10
Duke finished the season listed seventh in the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings, with the No. 7 final ranking representing the highest for the program since earning a No. 6 listing at the end of the 2006 season. The team started the season with a No. 5 listing and remained in the top 10 all season.
The Blue Devils closed the season with an all-time best three ranked tandems in doubles and tied the program’s all-time mark with four players listed in the season’s final rankings in singles. Senior Henrique Cunha and sophomore Raphael Hemmeler became the second duo in Duke men’s tennis history to finish the season as the top-ranked duo in the nation, as Cunha and Reid Carleton became the first ranked duo after the 2010 season. Jason Tahir and Michael Redlicki closed the season as the 27th-ranked tandem in the nation, while Chris Mengel and Fred Saba concluded the season ranked 72nd. In singles, Cunha led the squad with a No. 5 listing, his fourth consecutive end of season top 10 ranking of his career. Redlicki closed his first campaign at Duke listed 38th, while Saba was the third Blue Devil to appear in the top 50 at No. 43. In addition, Hemmeler finished the season in the rankings for the first time in his career at No. 73.
Duke Makes 23rd NCAA Championship Appearance
Duke was selected to the NCAA Team Championship field for the 22nd consecutive season and the 23rd time overall, receiving the No. 9 overall seed in the tournament. Head coach Ramsey Smith’s squad was selected to host an NCAA Regional for the fourth straight season, and defeated Coastal Carolina and UNC Wilmington in the first and second rounds to advance to the NCAA Round of 16 in Urbana, Ill. In the Round of 16, the Blue Devils notched a 4-2 victory over No. 8 seed Kentucky before falling in the quarterfinals to top-seed UCLA, 4-0. Following the conclusion of this year’s NCAA Championship, Duke now owns an all-time record of 44-23 in the tournament.
Cunha Earns Fourth All-America Honor in Singles, Third in Doubles
Cunha concluded his illustrious career at Duke with his fourth consecutive All-America honors in singles and third honor in doubles. Cunha was tabbed as the No. 8 seed in the singles tournament and advanced to the quarterfinals before dropping his match to eventual champion Blaz Rola of Ohio State. He became the first player in the program’s history to advance to the quarterfinals in each of his four seasons. In doubles, Cunha teamed with sophomore Raphael Hemmeler and the tandem became just the third pair in program history to reach the semifinals of the doubles draw, falling to eventual champions Jamere Jenkins and Mac Styslinger of Virginia. With the performance in doubles, Cunha garnered his third All-America honors while Hemmeler earned his first All-America honor.
Cunha Wins Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship and Leadership National Award
Cunha became the second player in the program’s history to earn the Arthur Ashe Sportmanship and Leadership National Award, joining current assistant coach Jonathan Stokke (2006) as the lone recipients of the award. The Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship and Leadership Award is given annually to a player who exhibits outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements.
Duke Totals 25 Wins
With their 25 wins on the season, Duke matched the 1999, 2000 and 2012 squads for the second-most wins in program history. The Blue Devils reached the 20-win plateau for the fourth consecutive season, while winning at least 22 matches for the third consecutive year in their lone regular season conference loss.
Duke Wins Nine ACC Matches
The Blue Devils notched a record of 9-1 in regular season ACC play during the 2012-13 season, reaching the nine-wins mark for just the fifth time in program history and the second straight season. That total matches the school record set by the 2006, 2010, 2011 and 2012 squads. The Blue Devils finished second in the ACC regular season standings, dropping a 4-3 decision at Virginia.
Cunha Named 2013 ACC Player of the Year
A product of Jaú, Brazil, Cunha was named the 2013 ACC Player of the Year for the second time in his standout career at Duke. He became the first player in the program’s history to be named ACC Player of the Year two times in his career, as he received the award as a freshman in 2010. In singles, Cunha was dominant throughout the regular season posting a perfect 17-0 ledger, including an undefeated 9-0 mark in ACC competition. Cunha was equally as dominant in doubles playing to a 33-3 overall record along with Raphael Hemmeler.
Cunha, along with Saba and Redlicki, were named to the 19-member All-ACC squad, as voted on by the league’s 11 coaches. Cunha became the sixth player in Duke’s all-time history to garner All-ACC honors in each of his four seasons, while Saba and Redlicki each earned the first All-ACC honors of their respective careers.
ITA Regional Awards
The recipients of the 2013 ITA Carolina Region awards were announced on May 28, with Stokke taking home ITA Carolina Region Assistant of the Year honors for the first time in his tenure. He became the third assistant at Duke to be named Assistant Coach of the Year, joining Dave Hagymas (1997) and Josh Goffi (2010). Cunha became the fourth player in Duke’s all-time history to be named ITA Regional Senior Player of the Year, joining Philip King (2004), Reid Carleton (2011) and Torsten Wietoska (2012). In addition, Redlicki became the fourth Blue Devil to be named as the ITA Regional Rookie of the Year, joining Philp King (2001), Henrique Cunha (2010) and Chris Mengel (2011).
Dominance in Doubles
The Blue Devils captured the doubles point in 25 of 31 matches played throughout the season. When winning the crucial opening point, Duke went on to win its match 23 times. In the six matches the Blue Devils dropped the doubles point, Duke came from behind to win the match on two occasions, including a thrilling 4-2 come from behind victory over Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament. The duo of Cunha and Hemmeler led the squad for the season with 39 victories, two shy of the program’s all-time mark.
Blue Devils Defend Home Courts
Duke concluded the home portion of its season with an undefeated 15-0 ledger, becoming the first team since the 2000-01 squad to finish with an undefeated ledger at home. The Blue Devils recorded nine of their 15 wins indoors at Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center, highlighted by the squad’s 4-1 victory over Tennessee. In the outdoor season, Duke posted six victories at Ambler Tennis Stadium. Overall, Duke recorded sweeps against 12 of the 15 teams it played at home this season.
Redlicki Records Strong Rookie Campaign
A product of Hawthorn Woods, Ill., Redlicki posted a solid freshman season totaling 31 wins in singles and 25 victories in doubles. An All-ACC selection in his first season, Redlicki finished third on the squad in singles wins and ranks eighth on the all-time charts in most wins by a rookie. In the fall, Redlicki reached the finals of the USTA Clay Court Invitational before falling to Southern Cal’s Roberto Quiroz. In doubles, Redlicki played the majority of the dual season on the No. 2 doubles tandem along with Tahir. Along with Tahir, the duo finished tied for second on the squad with 24 wins. In the fall, the tandem captured the Doubles Title at the USTA Clay Court Invitational, defeating Kentucky’s Tom Jomby and Kai-Wen Lai.
Cunha Breaks Career Singles and Doubles Wins Record
Cunha became the first player in men’s tennis history to break the 150-win plateau in singles for his career at Duke. He downed Adrien Berkowicz of Tyler Junior College, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, at the ITA National Indoor Championships to break Ludovic Walter’s previous mark of 117 career victories. In doubles, Cunha broke Doug Root’s mark of 121 victories on March 20, 2013 against Charlotte, as he and Hemmeler downed Jack Williams and Forrest Edwards, 8-2. Cunha concluded his career with 151 victories in singles and 147 in doubles.
Smith Posts 100th Career Victory
Head coach Ramsey Smith became the fourth coach in the program’s history to win his 100 matches as head coach with the squad’s 7-0 sweep over Clemson on Friday, April 5. With the win over the Tigers, Smith joins Steve Strome, John LeBar and Jay Lapidus as the only coaches in the program’s history to win 100 career matches, while also becoming the first person in the team’s history to win at least 100 matches in singles and doubles as a player, as well as head coach. Smith became the second fastest Duke head coach to reach the 100-win plateau in just 138 career matches, as Lapidus reached the 100-win mark in just 124 matches.
Blue Devils Fare Well in the Fall
The 2012 fall season saw the Blue Devils fare well in numerous events across the country. The team began the season by sweeping the Duke Fab 4 Invitational in singles and doubles. Cunha and Hemmeler, Tahir and Redlicki as well as Saba and Mengel captured doubles titles in their respective draws. In singles, the Blue Devils were equally as dominant as Cunha, Saba, Redlicki, Mengel, Hemmeler and Tahir all made the finals in their respective draws, but the matches were not played out. In the ITA Carolina Regional, Cunha and Hemmeler captured the doubles title over UNC Wilmington’s Kosta Blank and Chris Cooprider. With the win, Cunha 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. At the Disney Clay Court Invite, the tandem of Redlicki and Tahir captured the doubles title in the gold draw with a victory over Kentucky’s Tom Jomby and Kai-Wen Lai. In singles, Redlicki advanced to the finals by defeating three ranked opponents, before falling in the finals to USC’s Roberto Quiroz. The dynamic duo of Cunha and Hemmeler closed the fall by capturing the USTA/ITA National Indoor Doubles Title in Flushing, N.Y. The duo became the second Blue Devil pair to capture the doubles title at the ITA/USTA National Indoor Championships, the other being Ludovic Walter and Jason Zimmerman in 2003. In singles, Cunha made an impressive run to the semifinals, before being forced to retire against Virginia’s Jamere Jenkins.
TJ Pura Signs in Class of 2013-14
Smith announced the addition of TJ Pura to the program, beginning in the 2013-14 season. Pura is a blue chip recruit currently ranked 20th by Tennisrecruiting.net and has been ranked as high as fifth by the recruiting service. A native of Pacific Palisades, Calif., Pura holds an overall singles record of 30-14 against national opponents this year, including an impressive 10-3 mark against five-star recruits. In 2011, he captured the singles title at the Boys 18 USTA National Open. In addition, he has accumulated three USTA Gold Balls, which are awarded to the winners of the largest US national tournaments each year.