WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The 14th-ranked Duke men’s tennis team captured a tightly-contested doubles point and got out to a fast start in singles to top No. 25 Wake Forest, 4-3, Friday evening at the Demon Deacons’ Leighton Courts. The result marked the seventh-straight win for the Blue Devil squad, which improved to 17-5 overall and 9-1 in ACC competition.
The doubles point came down to a tiebreaker on court three after the two teams split the contests on courts one and two. In a battle of ranked tandems on court one, Wake Forest’s 57th-ranked duo of Pedro Dumont and Jon Ho defeated No. 69 Fred Saba and Raphael Hemmeler, 8-5. Duke responded with a victory at the No. 2 position, as junior Jason Tahir and sophomore Josh Levine posted an 8-6 decision over Romain Bogaerts and Maksim Kan.
In the decisive doubles match, redshirt junior Cale Hammond and sophomore Bruno Semenzato broke serve at 5-4 for the advantage but the Demon Deacons’ Adam Lee and Anthony Delcore broke back and held off break point later in the set. In the tiebreak, the Blue Devil pair won the final two points in a 7-5 decision to secure the point. Hammond and Semenzato picked up their third consecutive win as a pair in the process.
“It was huge to get the doubles point,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “That was probably the longest doubles point we’ve played all year at an hour and a half. Wake grabbed the momentum toward the end but Cale and Bruno really stepped up and came through in the clutch.”
Leading 1-0 after doubles, Duke won first sets on four of the six courts in singles play. Saba, the 46th-ranked player in the ITA singles poll, was the first to finish, notching a 6-1, 6-2 victory against No. 71 Lee in the No. 2 matchup. Freshman TJ Pura followed with a 6-1, 6-4 defeat of Sam Bloom in the No. 6 spot to put the Blue Devils within one point of clinching the match. The result also moved Pura’s win streak to 12 consecutive contests, giving him a 19-5 ledger for the season.
Levine clinched the team victory from the No. 5 position, downing Wake Forest’s Nicky Kunz by scores of 6-4, 6-4. The sophomore from Syosset, N.Y., improved his singles record to a team-best 30-7 mark. He is now 10-3 at the No. 5 spot in the lineup and 8-2 in ACC contests.
“TJ did what he’s been doing all year,” Smith said. “He came off quickly and played with a lot of energy. Fred played a really solid match at two. It was super disciplined from start to finish. Josh grinded through and got us the clinch.”
Despite the team score, the Demon Deacons rallied for wins on the three remaining courts. No. 36 Tahir fell to No. 35 Bogaerts of Wake Forest on court one, 6-3, 6-4. Hemmeler then surrendered a tough decision on court five, as Ho took a third-set super tiebreak by a 10-6 score. In the final match on court four, No. 86 Semenzato was bested by No. 114 Kim, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
The Blue Devils conclude regular season action Sunday, Apr. 20 in a showdown with Tobacco Road rival North Carolina at 1 p.m. at Ambler Tennis Stadium. Sunday also marks Senior Day for four-year letterwinner Saba, who will be honored prior to the match.
“We just have to make sure we have a good practice Saturday and prepare as well as we can,” Smith said. “It’s going to be a fun match with two really good teams that are on a roll right now. We’re looking forward to it. It should be a great atmosphere.”
#14 Duke 4, #25 Wake Forest 3
Apr 18, 2014 at Winston-Salem, N.C. (Leighton Courts)
1. #57 Pedro Dumont/Jon Ho (WF) def. #69 Raphael Hemmeler/Fred Saba (DU) 8-5
2. Josh Levine/Jason Tahir (DU) def. Romain Bogaerts/Maksim Kan (WF) 8-6
3. Cale Hammond/Bruno Semenzato (DU) def. Adam Lee/Anthony Delcore (WF) 8-7 (7-5)
1. #35 Romain Bogaerts (WF) def. #36 Jason Tahir (DU) 6-3, 6-4
2. #46 Fred Saba (DU) def. #71 Adam Lee (WF) 6-1, 6-2
3. Jon Ho (WF) def. Raphael Hemmeler (DU) 2-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-6)
4. #114 Maksim Kan (WF) def. #86 Bruno Semenzato (DU) 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)
5. Josh Levine (DU) def. Nicky Kunz (WF) 6-4, 6-4
6. TJ Pura (DU) def. Sam Bloom (WF) 6-1, 6-4
Duke 17-5 (9-1 ACC); National ranking #14
Wake Forest 14-11 (3-7 ACC); National ranking #25
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (2,6,5,1,3,4)