Duke (8-0) fell behind early in the match after conceding the doubles point for just the second time this season. All three doubles matches came down to tiebreakers, with the Bruins coming out on top on courts one and two.
In the No. 2 contest, senior David Holland and sophomore Chris Mengel dropped a 9-8 (7-4) decision to Alex Brigham and Marcos Giron to move to 5-3 in dual match play. The tandem of senior Torsten Wietoska and freshman Raphael Hemmeler then delivered what would be the lone doubles victory for Duke from the No. 3 position, defeating the Bruins' Warren Hardie and Clay Thompson by a 9-8 (7-5) margin. With the win, Wietoska and Hemmeler improved to 6-1 on the spring and 6-0 at the No. 3 spot.
The 13th-ranked duo of junior Henrique Cunha and sophomore Fred Saba suffered just their first loss of the spring, falling 9-8 (7-5) to Nick Meister and Adrien Puget as UCLA secured a 1-0 advantage heading into singles play.
"All three doubles matches were back and forth, ending with three simultaneous tiebreakers," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "I can't think of a match I have been a part of where the doubles ended with three simultaneous tiebreakers."
Duke rallied in singles action, however, picking up first-set victories on five of the six courts. The Bruins expanded their lead to 2-0 in the match when No. 104 Puget posted a 6-4, 6-3 win against Saba on court four. The Blue Devils responded with a victory at the top spot in the lineup, as second-ranked Cunha downed No. 39 Meister, 6-2, 6-4. Cunha, who moved up five spots in the ITA's most recent singles rankings, moved to 7-0 in dual match play and 21-4 overall while collecting his 10th win against a ranked opponent this season.
Hemmeler evened up the score at 2-2 just minutes later, edging Maxime Tabatruong, 7-6 (7-2), in the first set before cruising to a 6-2 win in the second set of their No. 6 matchup to follow Cunha off the courts. On court three, Wietoska notched a 7-5, 7-5 victory over No. 108 Giron of UCLA. The Duke senior battled back from a 3-0 deficit early in the first set to earn his sixth singles win of the spring while also giving the Blue Devils a 3-2 lead.
Freshman Jason Tahir clinched the first match of his collegiate career to propel Duke to the 4-2 victory. The rookie recorded a 6-4, 6-3 win against Dennis Mkrtchian in the No. 6 position, improving to 5-1 in dual match singles play. The No. 2 matchup between No. 17 Mengel and No. 70 Thompson went unfinished with Mengel leading at 7-5, 6-5.
"The key to the match was us not getting down after losing a heart-breaking doubles point to a top ten team" Smith said. "We got out to good starts in singles and competed well."
With the win, Duke remains unbeaten on the season at 8-0, while the Bruins fell to 8-1. The Blue Devils advance to Saturday's second round, where they will face top-ranked Southern California at 3:30 p.m. The Trojans earned a spot in the second round after defeating No. 20 Tennessee, 4-0, on Friday afternoon. In last year's meeting with USC, Duke notched a 4-3 victory in the opening round of the ITA Team Indoors to knot the overall series between the two schools at 4-4.
Live stats will be available for Saturday's match at www.virginiasports.com. For more information about the 2012 ITA Men's National Team Indoor Championships, visit the tournament homepage at www.itatennis.com.
Tennis Match Results
Duke vs UCLA
Feb 17, 2012 at Charlottesville, Va.
(The Boar's Head Sports Club)
#10 Duke 4, #8 UCLA 2
1. Nick Meister/Adrien Puget (UCLA) def. #13 Henrique Cunha/Fred Saba (DU) 9-8 (7-5)
2. Alex Brigham/Marcos Giron (UCLA) def. Chris Mengel/David Holland (DU) 9-8 (7-4)
3. Torsten Wietoska/Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. Warren Hardie/Clay Thompson (UCLA) 9-8 (7-5)
1. #2 Henrique Cunha (DU) def. #39 Nick Meister (UCLA) 6-2, 6-4
2. #70 Clay Thompson (UCLA) vs. #17 Chris Mengel (DU) 5-7, 5-6, unfinished
3. Torsten Wietoska (DU) def. #108 Marcos Giron (UCLA) 7-5, 7-5
4. #104 Adrien Puget (UCLA) def. Fred Saba (DU) 6-4, 6-3
5. Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. Maxime Tabatruong (UCLA) 7-6 (7-2), 6-2
6. Jason Tahir (DU) def. Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA) 6-4, 6-3
Duke 8-0; National ranking #10
UCLA 8-1; National ranking #8
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (4,1,5,3,6)