URBANA, Ill. – The No. 36 Duke men’s tennis team faced the first of two tests versus top 25 opponents this weekend and fell short on Friday, 5-2, against No. 13 Illinois.
“It was a tough match and a tough place to play,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “It was a great experience for us, especially for the freshmen. We had our chances in doubles but they executed the key points. We got down big early in some of the singles and we could have just went away but the guys showed a lot of heart and battled to the very end. Give Iliinois credit for playing a great match.”
The Blue Devils held a 2-1 lead in the match after winning the top two singles contests. No. 45 Kiril Dimitrov got off to a slow start against No. 23 Roy Kalmanovich, losing the first set 6-1. Dimitrov came back to win the final two sets with ease 6-2, 6-1 and improve to 14-7 on the year. He now has seven wins over ranked opponents and is 4-1 when playing at the No. 2 spot. No. 25 Reid Carleton also fell behind but rallied to win in three sets 3-6, 6-2, 1-0 over No. 41 Dennis Nevolo. Carleton is now 16-5 overall with four victories over ranked opponents and a 4-1 mark at the No. 1 position.
Illinois went on to win each of the final four singles matches for a 5-2 victory. The Fighting Illini took the No. 5 and 6 contests in straight sets while earning three-set wins at the third and fourth slots to clinch the match. Illinois also swept the three doubles contests for the first point in the contest.
The loss drops the Blue Devils to 3-2 overall on the year while Illinois improves to 4-1 with the win at home.
Duke will return to the courts on Sunday at 12 noon when they take on No. 25 Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
Illinois 5, Duke 2
Atkins Tennis Center
1. Marek Czerwinski/Marc Spicijaric (Illinois) def. #38 Alain Michel/Kiril Dimitrov (Duke) 8-5
2. Dennis Nevolo/Ruan Roelofse (Illinois) def. Dylan Arnould/Reid Carleton (Duke) 8-6
3. Roy Kalmanovich/Brian Livingston (Illinois) def. David Holland/Torsten Wietoska (Duke) 8-7
1. #25 Reid Carleton (Duke) def. #41 Dennis Nevolo (Illinois) 3-6, 6-2, 1-0 ret.
2. #45 Kiril Dimitrov (Duke) def. #23 Roy Kalmanovich (Illinois) 1-6, 6-2, 6-1
3. Ruan Roelofse (Illinois) def. Dylan Arnould (Duke) 6-7, 6-3, 6-4
4. Marc Spicijaric (Illinois) def. Jared Pinsky (Duke) 6-7, 7-6, 7-5
5. Meedo El Tabakh (Illinois) def. Torsten Wietoska (Duke) 7-5, 6-3
6. Brian Livingston (Illinois) def. David Holland (Duke) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Duke 3-2; National ranking #36
Illinois 4-1; National ranking #13
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (2,1,5,3,6,4)