SEATTLE, WASH. – The ninth-ranked Duke men’s tennis team will open play at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Team Indoors Friday, as the tournament is being hosted by University of Washington at the Nordstrom Tennis Center and the Seattle Tennis Club Feb. 15-18. The Blue Devils will face No. 8 Oklahoma in the first round of the draw Friday, Feb. 15 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
“We are excited to be here in Seattle for the National Team Indoors,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “These are 16 of the best teams in the country and every match is a great opportunity. We have done well in this event the last few years, and historically we have played really well here in Seattle. Our guys are ready, and this weekend should be a lot of fun.”
The Blue Devils earned one of the 15 automatic bids to the tournament, after defeating No. 46 Middle Tennessee State, 7-0, and No. 37 Northwestern, 4-0, in the Durham regional of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend Feb. 8-11. The 2012-13 campaign marks the fifth consecutive year that the team has qualified for the event, posting a 2-1 record the last two seasons. Last season, the Blue Devils upset No. 8 UCLA and No. 5 Florida, while falling to three-time reigning NCAA champion Southern California.
Duke is coming into the weekend with a 9-1 record on the season, last defeating No. 21 Michigan, 5-2, and North Carolina Central, 7-0, in a doubleheader Sunday, Feb. 10. The team also picked up a 4-1 victory Friday over No. 14 Tennessee.
The matchup against the Sooners will feature seven ranked singles players, including Duke’s No. 9 Henrique Cunha, No. 15 Michael Redlicki, No. 31 Fred Saba, No. 53 Chris Mengel and No. 57 Raphael Hemmeler. The Blue Devils lineup also features three ranked doubles pairings with Cunha and Hemmeler sporting a No. 2 ranking, while the junior pair of Mengel and Saba boasts a No. 33 ranking. The tandem of freshman Redlicki and sophomore Jason Tahir is ranked No. 18 in the latest ITA poll.
Oklahoma comes into the weekend with a record of 5-1 to open the spring. The Sooners are led in the polls by Guillermo Alcorta at 65th, while Costin Paval comes in listed at No. 68 and Dane Webb at No. 119. Oklahoma has one ranked doubles pair in Paval and Webb at No. 19. The two programs last met on March 18, 1989 at the Rice Invitational in Houston, Texas, with the Blue Devils winning the match, 5-1. Duke leads the all-time series against Oklahoma, 2-0.
The winner of Friday’s contest between Oklahoma and Duke will move on to face the winner of No. 1 Virginia and No. 24 Washington on Saturday. Live stats and live video will be available for all of this weekend’s action on http://www.gohuskies.com. For more information about the 2012 ITA National Team Indoor Championships, visit the tournament homepage at www.itatennis.com.