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Durham, N.C. - The fifth-ranked Duke University men’s tennis team earned its first win of the season over a ranked opponent, defeating No. 46 Middle Tennessee State, 7-0, Friday at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. The Blue Devils improved their record to 4-0 for the season, while the Blue Raiders fall to 2-1. The Blue Devils will face Northwestern in the championship match Saturday at 6 p.m. The winner of the championship match will play in the ITA Team National Indoors Feb. 15-18 in Seattle, Wash.

“It was a really good match for us, I thought we played well in doubles,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “In singles, we had very good starts on all of the courts, but Middle Tennessee battled us hard. We had a lot of tight second sets, which I think is good for us to have to compete and battle through some of those tougher matches.”

The pair of juniors Chris Mengel and Fred Saba took the first doubles match for the Blue Devils on the day over the Blue Raider pair of Ben Davis and David Fox, 8-3, on court three. After staying on serve until 4-4 in the No. 2 doubles match, Michael Redlicki and Jason Tahir were able to earn a break point and went on to clinch the doubles point for Duke, 8-5, over Victor Cornea and Yannick Born.

Henrique Cunha and Rafael Hemmeler, the top-ranked doubles tandem in the nation, left their match unfinished at the No. 1 doubles position against Middle Tennessee State’s duo of Christoph Lang and Marlon Brand, 6-5.

The team had a strong start in its six singles matches of the day. On court three, Redlicki continued his dominant play early as he went up two breaks over Cornea of MTSU, 4-0. The freshman defeated Cornea in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1, to win his fourth consecutive dual match to start his Duke career.     

“I feed off the crowd for energy,” Redlicki said of his start to the dual season. “My energy levels reach new levels and that is something that is huge for me. So far I have been playing really well from this energy I get from our crowd. I am enjoying dual season and everything it has to offer.”

In the No. 6 position in the lineup, Tahir defeated Fox, 6-3, 6-4, while Saba clinched the match for Duke moments later from the No. 2 spot in the lineup with a 6-3, 6-4, win over Lang. In the No. 1 position, the only matchup where both players were ranked, No. 11 Cunha earned an early break in the first game of the day over No. 101 Davis and went on to win the match 6-2, 6-3. 

In the final match at the No. 4 position, Mengel trailed by a break at 0-3 before coming from behind and winning the set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (4). In the third set tiebreak, Mengel cruised past Born to prevail in the match, 5-7, 7-6 (4), 1-0 (5), to keep the Blue Devils’ undefeated streak alive.

Tennis Match Results Middle Tennessee vs Duke
Jan 25, 2013 at Durham, NC
 (Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center)
 #5 Duke 7, #46 Middle Tennessee 0

Singles competition
1. #11 Henrique Cunha (DU) def. #101 Davis, Ben (MT) 6-2, 6-3
2. #23 Fred Saba (DU) def. Lang, Christoph (MT) 6-3, 6-4
3. #14 Michael Redlicki (DU) def. Cornea, Victor (MT) 6-1, 6-1
4. #43 Chris Mengel (DU) def. Born, Yannick (MT) 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 1-0 (10-5)
 5. #38 Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. Zito, Ettore (MT) 6-0, 7-5
6. #123 Jason Tahir (DU) def. Fox, David (MT) 6-3, 6-4

Doubles competition
 1. #1 Henrique Cunha/Raphael Hemmeler (DU) vs. Lang, Christoph/Brand, Marlon (MT) 6-5, unfinished
2. #39 Jason Tahir/Michael Redlicki (DU) def. Cornea, Victor/Born, Yannick (MT) 8-5 3. #37 Fred Saba/Chris Mengel (DU) def. Davis, Ben/Fox, David (MT) 8-3

Match Notes:
Middle Tennessee 2-1; National ranking #46
Duke 6-0; National ranking #5
 Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (3,6,2,1,5,4)
ITA Kick-Off Weekend
 T-3:20 A-111
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