DURHAM, N.C. - Junior Chris Mengel captured a doubles victory and clinched the team win in singles to help the fourth-ranked Duke men's tennis team sweep No. 28 VCU, 7-0, Tuesday afternoon at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. The matchup between the Rams and Blue Devils was originally scheduled to be played outdoors, but was moved inside due to inclement weather. Duke advances to 12-2 on the season, while VCU falls to 11-4.
"It was a really good match for us," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "I thought we started off well in doubles and was very impressed with our singles. We have been working hard on a couple of things over the last two weeks and I thought we really improved on those things. Overall, it was a solid team win and a good 7-0 win over a very good VCU team."
Duke utilized a quick start in doubles to take the opening point for the 13th time this season. The Blue Devils captured the first win of the afternoon on court three, as the 46th-ranked pair of junior Fred Saba and Mengel defeated VCU's 38th-ranked tandem of Alejandro Argente and Jaime Vazquez, 8-3. Saba and Mengel captured the first two games on the court to go up an early break and never looked back, capturing the duo's 16th victory of the season.
At the No. 1 position, the fourth-ranked tandem of senior Henrique Cunha and sophomore Raphael Hemmeler jumped out in front of the Rams' pair of Alexis Heugas and Dylan McCloskey, 4-0, before the VCU duo was able to hold serve and take its first game. Cunha and Hemmeler went on to seal the doubles point for Duke with an 8-2 victory and posted their team-leading 21st win of the season.
"We got off to a fast start on one and three," Smith said. "That helped to relax everybody and give us team momentum. Those are the two best spots for VCU, they are both ranked at one and three. For us to dominate at those two spots gave us a nice boost heading into singles."
Playing in their first match since being listed in the top-10 of the doubles rankings earlier this week, sophomore Jason Tahir and freshman Michael Redlicki stayed on serve throughout their match on court two against VCU's Max Wennakoski and Michal Voscek, but it was left unfinished at 5-5.
The Blue Devils continued their dominant play in singles, as Hemmeler recorded the first singles victory of the afternoon on court five over Voscek, 6-3, 6-3. The win gave the sophomore his team-leading 22nd victory of the season, as he remains perfect when playing from the fifth position at 8-0 on the season. Moments later, Redlicki gave Duke a 3-0 lead after winning his match at the No. 3 position over Claes Goransson, 6-3, 6-0. Mengel sealed the team win for Duke at the No. 4 spot in the lineup, as the junior defeated Argente in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2.
"I thought I played well, I got off to a fast start," Mengel said. "I played aggressive. I think that favored me against him [Argente], individually. I thought everyone did a good job in the first match we have played in two weeks. We came out and played well."
At the No. 6 position, Tahir dropped the first set of his match against VCU's Vazquez, 4-6, before coming back to win the match to a third set tiebreak, 4-6, 6-1, 1-0 (9), while Cunha defeated 99th-ranked Heuges in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2. After falling down a break early in his match, 0-2, at the No. 2 position, Saba won six consecutive games to take the first set, 6-2. The junior edged 15th-ranked Wennakoski in a third set tiebreak, 6-2, 4-6, 1-0 (10-8).
Up next, Duke will travel to Berkeley, Calif., to face California for its final nonconference match of the season Sunday, March 10 at 4 p.m. The Blue Devils will return home to open their conference schedule against Wake Forest Friday, March 15 at 1 p.m.
Tennis Match Results VCU vs Duke Mar 05, 2013 at Durham, N.C. (Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center) #4 Duke 7, #28 VCU 0