COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The fifth-ranked Duke men's tennis team rebounded from a hard-fought 4-3 setback to No. 18 North Carolina on Wednesday by defeating No. 70 Maryland, 5-2, on the road Friday afternoon. The Blue Devils dropped the doubles point but responded with five wins in singles to improve to 19-4 on the season and 8-2 in Atlantic Coast Conference play. The victory also preserved the squad's perfect 8-0 ledger in ACC road action this spring.
"I'm very proud of our team effort today," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "Once again we bounced back well from a tough loss and showed resiliency. Maryland is certainly much better than their ranking and we knew it was going to be a hard-fought match."
In doubles, the 28th-ranked tandem of junior Henrique Cunha and sophomore Chris Mengel bounced back from a tough loss against the Tar Heels on Wednesday to defeat No. 33 Maros Horny and John Collins of Maryland, 8-4, in the No. 1 matchup. However, the Terrapins recorded wins on courts two and three to claim the point and take an early 1-0 advantage in the match.
Much like in Wednesday's contest, the Blue Devils responded with strong performances in singles, posting first-set victories on five of the six courts. Sophomore Fred Saba continued what has been a solid stretch of singles play, pushing his win streak to nine consecutive matches with a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Maryland's Jessie Kiuru in the No. 4 slot. The Terps then regained the lead as No. 26 Mengel fell to Vlad Stefan, 6-4, 6-1, on court two.
Duke's freshmen followed with straight-sets victories on courts five and six, which put the squad back on top by a 3-2 margin. Raphael Hemmeler dispatched Collins, 6-4, 6-2, in the No. 5 spot for his seventh consecutive victory. The win also moved the Zurich, Switzerland native to 22-10 on the year and 7-2 in ACC contests. Meanwhile, fellow rookie Jason Tahir edged the Terrapins' Tommy Laine, 6-3, 6-3, from the No. 6 position to improve to 21-8 overall and 7-3 in conference action.
Cunha, ranked fourth in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's singles poll, clinched the match for the Blue Devils from the top spot in the lineup. Despite falling behind Maryland's Horny, 4-0, in the first set, Cunha rallied to win the first set tiebreaker, 7-3, and take the second set by a 6-2 score for his team-best 32nd singles victory of the season. Cunha also moved to 8-2 in ACC play and 18-3 at the No. 1 position.
In the final remaining match on court three, senior Torsten Wietoska cruised to a 6-0 win in the first set, but dropped a second set tiebreaker to Sergio Wyss, 7-1. However, it was Wietoska that would prevail in the third set super tiebreaker, 10-3, to win the match and seal a 5-2 victory for Duke.
"We maintained our composure after dropping the doubles point and came through strong in singles," Smith said. "It was great to see Cunha clinch the match. He really fought hard today and found a way to win against an opponent who was hot."
The Blue Devils close out the regular season Sunday, Apr. 15 at Boston College. That match is slated to begin at 11 a.m.
#5 Duke 5, #70 Maryland 2 Apr 13, 2012 at College Park, Md. Cole Field House Tennis Courts