CARY, N.C. - No. 13 Duke could not have asked for a better day on Saturday as they defeated North Carolina, 4-0, to advance to the ACC Tournament Championship match for the second straight year and had two individuals reach milestones in the victory.
"I couldn't be any prouder of our guys," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "We lost a heartbreaker to North Carolina last week, 4-3. I thought the energy of our guys today was amazing. I thought the first time we played them we came out flat. Now we are advancing to the finals of the tournament and will get a shot at Virginia."
The Blue Devils' No. 1 doubles team, Reid Carleton and Henrique Cunha, tied the school record for most doubles wins by a duo with their 8-5 victory over No. 41 Joey Burkhardt and Stefan Hardy. It was the 75th career win for the two players as a tandem as they match the record set by Peter Ayers and Rob Chess.
"We really started returning well towards the end of our match," said Carleton. "We took some returns down the line because they were pinching a little bit."
Carleton, a senior from Naples, Fla., clinched Duke's semifinal win with a 6-2, 6-3 victory against No. 81 Brennan Boyajian. The win was his 100th career singles victory as he becomes just the 10th player in school history to join the 100-win club. He joins his head coach Ramsey Smith and Doug Root as just the third Duke player to record over 100 career wins in both singles (100) and doubles (112).
Duke gained the early momentum in the match by winning the doubles point, but the point came down to the wire. After Carleton and Cunha won their match, North Carolina took the No. 3 doubles contest, 8-6 to bring the point down to the No. 2 spot. Playing in the deciding match were David Holland and Chris Mengel of Duke and Cameron Ahari and Brennan Boyajian of North Carolina. The match ended up being decided in a tiebreaker. The two Tar Heels jumped out to a 4-2 lead only to see Duke come back and even things up at 6-6 and then claim the next two points for the victory.
"I was nervous during the tiebreaker," said Smith. "I thought Chris (Mengel) and David (Holland) did a great job of stepping up and being aggressive. They took it to them on a couple of points after being down a mini breaker. It could have gone either way and we were fortunate enough to win that one."
Junior David Holland Talks About Tiebreaker to Clinch Doubles Point
It was the sixth time this season the doubles point has been decided by Holland and Mengel with five of those matches coming down to tiebreakers. The two players have now won three of those five contests and now have 17 overall victories this season.
"That was huge for us, Holland and Mengel clinching the doubles point," said Carleton. "It really took the wind out of their sails. Last time we played them they won the doubles point and it gave them some belief in singles."
The Blue Devils jumped out to big leads in four of the six first sets of singles. They were up 4-1 on the No. 2, 3, 4 and 6 courts and would end up winning the first set on all four.
Freshman Chris Mengel continued his torrid month of April. He lost his first match of the month but has now won seven straight as he took down Stefan Hardy 6-2, 6-1 at the No. 3 spot. Mengel claimed his 30th win of the season, becoming just the ninth freshman in Duke history to win 30 or more singles matches.
Fellow freshman Fred Saba put Duke in front 3-0 with a straight set victory against Joey Burkhardt, 6-1, 6-3, at the No. 4 position. Saba has won 26 singles contests this season.
Shortly after Saba finished, Carleton sealed the match with his victory, improving to 33-8 on the year and sending Duke on to the finals. Carleton's two wins in this year's ACC Tournament make him 4-0 in his career. He is also 7-0 in doubles during ACC Tournament play.
Duke earned its 20th win of the season on Saturday, marking the second straight year with 20 or more wins and 21st season in school history.
The finals will feature a rematch of last year's championship match as Duke will take on Virginia at 11 a.m. in Cary. The Cavaliers edged the Blue Devils, 4-2, last season for the title. Duke has now reached the finals of the ACC Tournament in 15 of the past 21 seasons, six more times than the next closest school, Virginia (9).
After all of Saturday's action the Battle of the Blues presented by Continental Tire now has North Carolina leading 14-10. Duke regained a half a point by evening the season series with the Tar Heels in men's tennis but lost two points from track & field. Men's golf and rowing are still to be determined.
Tennis Match Results
Duke vs North Carolina
Apr. 23, 2011 at Cary, N.C.
#13 Duke 4, #15 North Carolina 0
1. #7 Reid Carleton/Henrique Cunha (Duke) def. #41 Joey Burkhardt/Stefan Hardy (UNC) 8-5
2. David Holland/Chris Mengel (Duke) def. Cameron Ahari/Brennan Boyajian (UNC) 9-8 (8-6)
3. Jose Hernandez/Zach Hunter (UNC) def. Jared Pinsky/Fred Saba (Duke) 8-6
1. #22 Jose Hernandez (UNC) vs. #7 Henrique Cunha (Duke) 6-4, 4-3, unfinished
2. #13 Reid Carleton (Duke) def. #81 Brennan Boyajian (UNC) 6-2, 6-3
3. Chris Mengel (Duke) def. Stefan Hardy (UNC) 6-2, 6-1
4. Fred Saba (Duke) def. Joey Burkhardt (UNC) 6-1, 6-3
5. William Parker (UNC) vs. Torsten Wietoska (Duke) 7-5, 1-0, unfinished
6. Cameron Ahari (UNC) vs. Luke Marchese (Duke) 2-6, 4-3, unfinished
Duke 20-8; National ranking #13
North Carolina 15-7; National ranking #15
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (3,4,2)