DURHAM, N.C. – Competing for the first time since Feb. 9, the 17th-ranked Duke men’s tennis team returned to dual match play in convincing form, sweeping Coastal Carolina in four doubles and seven singles matches Thursday afternoon at Ambler Tennis Stadium. The 11-0 victory improved the squad to 6-3 on the spring.
“We looked pretty sharp,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “We definitely have a little work to do at certain spots but we got some good matches in. I’m glad we got an extra match in before going up to VCU.”
The Blue Devils came out strong in doubles, with senior Fred Saba and junior Raphael Hemmeler racing to a quick 8-0 victory over Coastal Carolina’s Ted Nilsson and Jabor Al-Mutawa. The win moved the duo to 4-1 overall and 2-0 from the No. 2 position.
Freshman TJ Pura and sophomore Bruno Semenzato teamed up for the first time in dual match play, collecting an 8-2 win over Rick Timmerman and Stefan Jakubov at the No. 4 spot to improve to 5-1 on the year. A short while later redshirt junior Cale Hammond and sophomore Daniel McCall closed out an 8-6 decision against the Chanticleers’ Garik Yedigarian and Renan Samed on court three to move their season ledger to 8-2 overall and 3-1 on the spring.
After a long fourth game on court one, the 33rd-ranked tandem of sophomore Michael Redlicki and junior Jason Tahir traded breaks with Coastal Carolina’s Philippe Tsangaridis and Leo Christofides before both teams held serve to force a tiebreak at 7-all. In the tiebreaker, Tsangaridis and Christofides fought back from an early 5-0 Duke lead, but Redlicki and Tahir held on to win, 8-7 (5). Now 6-3 on the year, the nationally-ranked Blue Devil duo also improved to 3-2 from the No. 1 position.
“I think the experimental format helped us because the mentality the first two months of the year was a lot of urgency right from the beginning,” Smith said. “With the format we’re using now we have a little more time, but we still came out with some pretty good urgency. Rafa [Hemmeler] and Fred have been unbelievable the two matches they’ve played together. They played really well at Michigan and really well here.”
Holding a 4-0 advantage going into singles, Duke kept the momentum rolling, winning first sets on all seven courts. Pura led the charge, rolling to a 6-2, 6-3 win against Samed of the Chanticleers to extend his win streak in singles to seven matches dating back to the fall. Hemmeler then posted a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Al-Mutawa on court five to give the junior an 8-6 ledger on the year.
Redlicki, the 33rd-ranked player in the latest ITA national singles poll, picked up his third win of the season over a ranked opponent, dispatching No. 67 Tsangaridis 6-4, 6-4, in the matchup on court one. No. 40 Tahir topped Yedigarian, 6-3, 6-4 in the No. 2 slot to move to 6-2 in dual match play and No. 58 Saba added a 6-2, 6-4 win over Nilsson from the No. 3 position to bring the match score to 9-0.
Semenzato, the 94th-ranked player in the ITA poll, earned his 18th singles win of the year with a 6-2, 6-2 decision over Al-Mutawa on court five. Sophomore Josh Levine rounded out the afternoon by taking a first-set tiebreaker against Hunter Whalen of the Chanticleers en route to a 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory in the No. 6 spot.
Following Thursday’s match, the Blue Devils will hit the road to face No. 29 Virginia Commonwealth Sunday, March 2 at 12 p.m. in Richmond, Va.
#17 Duke 11, Coastal Carolina 0
Feb 27, 2014 at Durham, N.C. (Ambler Tennis Stadium)
1. #33 Michael Redlicki/Jason Tahir (DU) def. Philippe Tsangaridis/Leo Christofides (CCU) 8-7 (7-5)
2. Fred Saba/Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. Ted Nilsson/Jabor Al-Mutawa (CCU) 8-0
3. Cale Hammond/Daniel McCall (DU) def. Garik Yedigarian/Renan Samed (CCU) 8-6
4. TJ Pura/Bruno Semenzato (DU) def. Rick Timmerman/Stefan Jakubov (CCU) 8-2
1. #37 Michael Redlicki (DU) def. #67 Philippe Tsangaridis (CCU) 6-4, 6-4
2. #40 Jason Tahir (DU) def. Garik Yedigarian (CCU) 6-3, 6-4
3. #58 Fred Saba (DU) def. Ted Nilsson (CCU) 6-2, 6-4
4. #94 Bruno Semenzato (DU) def. Leo Christofides (CCU) 6-2, 6-2
5. Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. Jabor Al-Mutawa (CCU) 6-1, 6-4
6. Josh Levine (DU) def. Hunter Whalen (CCU) 7-6 (7-5), 6-2
7. TJ Pura (DU) def. Renan Samed (CCU) 6-2, 6-3
Coastal Carolina 6-4
Duke 6-3; National ranking #17
Order of finish: Doubles (2,4,3,1); Singles (7,5,1,2,4,3,6)
4 doubles and 7 singles matches played for best of 11-point match