CARY, N.C. - The Blue Devils men's tennis team opened its season on Friday at the Duke Fab Four Invitational in Cary, N.C., with three of four duos in the doubles draw advancing to the finals. In singles, the Blue Devils won all eight of their singles matches.
"I was happy with the day, the guys have been itching to get out and compete," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "We have been back at school practicing for a while; the guys were just really ready and eager to get out there. I thought we were prepared and started out well in the doubles; we won six of eight doubles matches we played. We have three teams in the finals and we had all eight guys winning in singles."
In the blue singles draw, No. 1 Henrique Cunha defeated Radford's Stijn Meulemans, 7-5, 6-3, while sophomore Jason Tahir cruised to a 6-2, 6-0 victory over South Carolina's Thiago Pinheiro. Freshman Josh Levine earned his first collegiate singles victory, as he came from behind to defeat Kentucky's Juan-Pablo Murra, 2-6, 6-1, 6-0. In the quarterfinals on Saturday, Cunha will meet N.C. State's Dave Thomson and Levine will play against William & Mary's Jamie Whiteford.
In the black singles draw, No. 19 ranked junior Chris Mengel overwhelmed William & Mary's Ben Guthrie, 6-2, 6-0. At one point during the match, Mengel tallied 19 consecutive points against Guthrie. Sophomore Raphael Hemmeler defeated Kentucky's Ryuji Hirooka, 6-3, 6-3. In the quarterfinals, Mengel will take on Elon's Stefan Fortmann, while Hemmeler will face N.C. State's Ivan Sanchez-Gomez.
In their first collegiate singles matches, freshmen Michael Redlicki and Daniel McCall notched a victory in the white singles draw. McCall defeated Alabama's Carlos Taborga, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1. Redlicki defeated Chris Simich, 7-5, 6-1. The Blue Devils stayed undefeated after junior Fred Saba defeated William & Mary's John Banks, 6-3, 6-2. On Saturday in the quarterfinals, McCall will play Kentucky's Anthony Rossi, the top seed in the draw, Redlicki will play Radford's Nicholas Sayer, the third seed in the draw, Saba will compete against Alabama's Becker O'Shaugnessy.
"I was really impressed with all three freshmen, they all battled adversity at some point during their match and were able to overcome it," said Smith.
After day one of doubles play, the Blue Devils will have three of four teams in the finals. In the black doubles draw, Mengel and Saba defeated the Louisville duo of Michael Lippens and Chris Simich, 8-3, in the first round. In the second round of action, the duo defeated Virginia Tech's Marko Lovrinovic and Hunter Koontz, 8-5. Saba and Mengel will face the Radford duo of Nicholas Sayer and Thomas Dehaen for the final, on Saturday.
In the blue doubles draw, Cunha and Hemmeler advanced to the finals by defeating William & Mary's Jamie Whiteford and Aaron Chaffee in the first round, 8-5. In the semifinal round the 15th-ranked duo defeated the South Carolina's Thiago Pinheiro and Kyle Koch, 8-3. They will face the Elon's Cameron Silverman and Stefan Fortmann.
In the white doubles draw, freshman Michael Redlicki and sophomore Jason Tahir advanced to the finals by defeating the Elon's Kaufman and Kowalski 9-8 (3). In the second round match, the top seed in the draw defeated William & Mary's Ben Hoogland and Will Juggins, 8-4. They will face the N.C. State's Sean Weber and Thomson in the finals.
The doubles finals will start at 9 a.m. Saturday followed by singles at 11:30 a.m.