DURHAM, N.C. – On senior day,senior Henrique Cunha won his doubles match and followed it up with one of the top performances of his Blue Devil career in singles, as the No. 10 Duke men’s tennis team completed its regular season with a 7-0 win over No. 38 N.C. State Sunday at Ambler Tennis Stadium. The Blue Devils conclude the 2013 regular season with a 21-4 record and an 9-1 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play, while the squad finishes the home portion of their schedule undefeated at 13-0.
“I am really excited that we have finished undefeated at home for the season,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “It is a tribute to the team and guys being prepared and ready for everyone’s best.”
A native of Jaú, Brazil, Cunha capped off his final regular season at Duke with an undefeated 16-0 record in singles play, while also going unbeaten, 10-0, in the ACC in doubles. He was honored, as the squad’s lone senior by a brief ceremony for senior day, after the Blue Devils were able to fight off a pesky N.C. State squad to sweep the doubles portion of the match.
“It was a fitting senior day today,” Smith said. “It was a nice recognition after doubles and Cunha played one of the best singles matches of his career. It has been very special to have him a part of this program.”
Freshman Michael Redlicki and sophomore Jason Tahir captured the first win of the day in doubles at the No. 2 spot in the lineup, as the duo downed Thomas Weigel and Robbie Mudge, 8-5. After the Wolfpack tandem of Weigel and Mudge were able to break Tahir’s serve to tie the match at five-all, Tahir and Redlicki responded by taking the next three games to win the match, 8-5. Tahir and Redlicki close the regular season with a 23-6 overall record and a 10-2 mark in the conference.
The match featuring the junior tandem of Fred Saba and Chris Mengel against Beck Bond and Austin Powell remained on serve until Saba and Mengel were able to win the first break of the day to take a 6-4 advantage late in the match. The Duke duo went on to seal the opening point for the Blue Devils three games later with an 8-5 victory. Saba and Mengel close the regular season with a 23-6 overall record, including an 18-4 mark in the dual season.
At the top position, the second-ranked duo of Raphael Hemmeler and Cunha completed the sweep with an 8-5 win over NC State’s Sean Weber and Dave Thomson. The dynamic duo of Hemmeler and Cunha took control of the match after breaking Thomson to take a 6-4 advantage. Cunha served the duo to victory three games later and the 8-5 win, as Cunha and Hemmeler conclude the regular season perfect in the ACC in doubles at 9-0 and a 31-3 record for the fall and spring.
“It is just so much fun playing with [Cunha] on the court, we enjoy playing together,” said Hemmeler. “[Cunha] is just the perfect example for our team on the court and off the court.”
After being honored in a brief ceremony following the doubles point, Cunha put together a strong performance in his final regular season home match of his career. The senior quickly won the first three games of his match on his way to overwhelming Mudge, 6-1, 6-0, at the top position. With the win, the senior concludes the regular season with an undefeated 16-0 mark in singles.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better senior day,” Cunha stated after the match. “I have high expectations for the next few weeks going into the tournament, we are pretty confident right now and everybody is playing well. We just beat a very good team, 7-0.”
At the No. 5 position, Hemmeler gave the Blue Devils a commanding 3-0 lead in the match after he downed Weber, 6-3, 6-2. The sophomore was able to win early breaks in both sets to take a lead that he never relinquished, as he concludes the regular season with a team-high 31 wins in singles. At the second position in the lineup, Saba was able to break Powell late in the first set to take a 5-3 advantage, before winning the frame the following game, 6-3. A product of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Saba went up a break in the first game of the second set on his way to clinching the match for Duke with a 6-3, 6-2 win. He finished the regular season with a 26-8 overall record.
Redlicki concluded his first regular season at Duke with a 29-8 record, after he defeated Thomson at the third position, 7-6 (5), 6-4, while Mengel put the Blue Devils ahead 5-0 following his 7-5, 6-4 win over Weigel on court four. A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Mengel finishes the regular season with a 26-8 record and an 8-2 mark in the ACC. In the closest match of the day, Tahir edged Bond in a third-set tiebreak, 6-3, 5-7, 1-0 (10-6). Tahir heads into the ACC Tournament with a 19-1 mark for the dual season.
Up next, the Blue Devils will play in the ACC Tournament as the No. 2 seed on Friday, April 26 at Cary Tennis Park in Cary, N.C. Duke will face the winner of Thursday’s first round matchup of No. 7 seed Florida State vs. No. 10 seed Georgia Tech at noon Friday.
Tennis Match Results NC State vs Duke Apr 21, 2013 at Durham, N.C. (Ambler Tennis Stadium) #10 Duke 7, #38 NC State 0