DURHAM, N.C. – The fifth-ranked Duke men’s tennis team defeated Northwestern in the championship match of the Durham region of the fifth annual Intercollegiate Tennis Association Kick-Off Weekend, 4-0, Saturday inside the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. With the win, the Blue Devils earn a bid to play in the ITA National Team Indoors, held Feb. 15-18 in Seattle, Wash. Duke advances to 5-0 on the season, while Northwestern falls to 6-1.
“It was a solid weekend and today was a great team win,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “The way everyone has been playing is a reflection of the work we have been putting in, everyone has been training hard and preparing well. I am happy for the guys and excited to book our spot in Seattle.”
The junior pairing of Fred Saba and Chris Mengel recorded the first win of the day for the Blue Devils in the No. 3 doubles match over Alex Pasareanu and Mihir Kumar of Northwestern. The duo was able to go up a second break to take a 6-3 advantage and went on to win the next two games to take the match, 8-3. Top-ranked Henrique Cunha and Raphael Hemmeler earned the first break in their match on court one to take a 2-1 lead that they never relinquished. The duo clinched the doubles point with their 13th consecutive victory dating back to the fall over Fedor Baev and Spencer Wolf, 8-3.
On court three, the 39th-ranked duo in the latest ITA poll, Michael Redlicki and Jason Tahir continued their solid play, storming out to a 4-0 lead in their match over Raleigh Smith and Sidarth Bilaji of Northwestern, but the match was left unfinished at 5-5.
In singles, Hemmeler earned the first singles point of the day on court five over Jackman, 6-0, 6-2, while on court four Mengel defeated Pasareanu, 6-2, 6-2, to give the Blue Devils a 3-0 advantage on the scoreboard. After cruising in the first set of his singles match against Baev, 6-0, Tahir clinched the match for Duke after holding off Baev in the second set, 6-0, 6-4. The win keeps Duke’s undefeated streak alive for the spring season, as the Blue Devils are now 47-0 in singles and doubles in dual matches.
“I have been working on being loose and I thought I did a good job with that today,” said Tahir following the match. “I think I played well. I fed off everybody on the team, looking up everybody was winning. This is a good team win today.”
In his match in the No. 3 position, Redlicki went up two breaks early in his match and went on to win the first set, 6-1, over Balaji who was able to answer back to take the second set, 6-4. The match was left unfinished before a deciding third set could be played.
After staying on serve through the first two games of the No. 1 singles match, Cunha was able to take the first break over Wolf to take a 3-1 lead. The senior cruised from that point on, taking the first set, 6-1. In the second, Cunha was up a break at 5-2 before the match was left unfinished.
Court two saw the only match of the day between a pair of nationally ranked players in No. 23 Saba and No. 108 Smith of Northwestern. Saba fell in the first set of the match, 7-5, before the match was left unfinished in the second set.
Up next, the Blue Devils will travel to Champaign, Ill., the site of the 2013 NCAA Championships in May, to take on the Illini on Friday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. The team will then play at Notre Dame on Sunday, Feb. 3 at noon. Tennis Match Results Northwestern vs Duke Jan 26, 2013 at Durham, N.C. (Sheffield Tennis Center) #5 Duke 4, #37 Northwestern 0
Singles competition 1. #11 Henrique Cunha (DU) vs. Spencer Wolf (NU) 6-1, 5-2, unfinished 2. #23 Fred Saba (DU) vs. #108 Raleigh Smith (NU) 5-7, 0-2, unfinished 3. #14 Michael Redlicki (DU) vs. Sidarth Balaji (NU) 6-1, 4-6, unfinished 4. #43 Chris Mengel (DU) def. Alex Pasareanu (NU) 6-2, 6-2 5. #38 Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. Chris Jackman (NU) 6-1, 6-2 6. #123 Jason Tahir (DU) def. Fedor Baev (NU) 6-0, 6-4