ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The 10th-ranked men's tennis team opened the spring season 1-0, defeating No. 32 Michigan by a score of 4-3 Saturday evening at the Preston Robert Tisch Building in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Wolverines jumped out to a 1-0 lead after claiming the doubles point with a pair of victories at the No. 2 and 3 positions. Michigan's Alex Petrone and Michael Zhu edged senior Torsten Wietoska and freshman Raphael Hemmeler on court two, 8-3, while the duo of senior David Holland and sophomore Chris Mengel dropped an 8-5 decision to Barrett Franks and Alex Buzzi in the No. 3 spot.
Junior Henrique Cunha and sophomore Fred Saba, who won the doubles title at last weekend's Duke Invitational in their debut as a tandem, upended 22nd-ranked Evan King and Shaun Bernstein in the No. 1 matchup, 8-4.
Saba - ranked No. 110 in the latest ITA poll - evened the score at 1-1 with a 6-3, 6-4 singles victory over Michigan's Zhu at the No. 4 spot to lead the Blue Devils off the courts. Freshman and 120th-ranked Raphael Hemmeler followed with a 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Buzzi in the No. 6 position, while No. 17 Mengel pushed Duke's lead to 3-1 with a 7-6 (7), 6-1 win over the Wolverines' Bernstein on court two.
After Duke claimed victories in three straight singles matches, Michigan responded with a win at the No. 5 spot as Franks edged rookie Jason Tahir in three sets, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1. However, seventh-ranked Cunha secured the victory for Duke soon after, rallying from a 1-5 score in the first set to defeat No. 6 King 7-5, 6-1 in the No. 1 position and clinch the match for the Blue Devils.
In the final remaining singles match on court three, Wietoska took the first set against Michigan's Petrone, but ultimately fell in three frames, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2).
"[Michigan] got a good crowd. It was a tough atmosphere out there," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "We did a great job of bouncing back after losing a tough doubles point. The guys really stepped up in singles, and I was proud of our team playing in a tough environment."
The Blue Devils return to action next weekend as they host VCU, Washington and Louisville in an ITA Kick-Off Weekend event. Duke is set to face off against the Rams on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 2 p.m. in the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.
Tennis Match Results Duke vs Michigan Jan 21, 2012 at Ann Arbor, Mich. (Preston Robert Tisch Building)