DURHAM, N.C. - The sixth-ranked Duke men's tennis team rebounded from its first Atlantic Coast Conference loss of the season in convincing fashion, notching a 7-0 victory over No. 68 Virginia Tech Sunday at Ambler Tennis Stadium. The Blue Devils claimed the doubles point for the fifth consecutive match and collected straight-set victories on all six courts in singles play on their way to the win.
"Overall as a team, I thought we handled a loss really well again," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "We're playing good tennis and bouncing back and improving after tough losses. I thought we were really prepared for this match."
Duke (14-3, 3-1 ACC) posted wins in two of the three doubles contests to grab a 1-0 lead in the match heading into singles. Freshman Raphael Hemmeler and sophomore Cale Hammond led Duke off the courts, cruising to an 8-1 victory against Virginia Tech's Trpimir Kujundzic and Hunter Koontz in the No. 3 position. Hemmeler and Hammond remain undefeated as a tandem with an overall record of 5-0 and a 4-0 ledger in ACC play.
The 62nd-ranked duo of junior Henrique Cunha and sophomore Chris Mengel clinched the doubles point for the third consecutive match, downing No. 47 Luka Somen and Corrado Degl'Incerti Tocci, 8-3, in the No. 1 doubles contest. The win marked Cunha and Mengel's third over a ranked doubles pair this season and moved them to 11-4 overall and 4-0 in conference action.
"I thought that was two of our better matches of the year at No. 1 and No. 3," Smith said. "Both solid teams on Virginia Tech's side, and we just got off to unbelievable starts."
In the remaining match on court two, sophomore Fred Saba and freshman Jason Tahir made their debut as a doubles pair, suffering an 8-2 setback to the Hokies' Patrick Daciek and Lucas Oliveira.
Duke jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the match with a pair of straight-set singles victories on courts four and five. Tahir defeated Tocci in the No. 5 contest, 6-2, 6-0, to improve to 17-6 overall and 5-2 from the No. 5 position. Saba followed shortly after, rolling to a 6-3, 6-0 victory against the Hokies' Mauricio Antun in the No. 4 matchup for his second singles win of the weekend. Saba is now 21-10 on the year in singles play and 3-1 in ACC contests.
Third-ranked Cunha clinched his third match of the year, recording a 6-1, 6-0 victory over No. 84 Somen of Virginia Tech on court one. The win moved Cunha to 27-6 overall and 13-2 from the top spot in the lineup. In the No. 3 singles contest, Hemmeler picked up his first career ACC singles victory with a 6-4, 6-0 win against Daciek.
Hammond closed out a weekend of strong play, dispatching Kujundzic in the No. 6 spot, 7-5, 6-3. The Duke sophomore went 4-0 during the weekend homestand, collecting a pair of straight-set singles victories from the No. 6 position and two wins at No. 3 doubles along with Hemmeler. Hammond also extended his dual match singles win streak to four while improving to 3-0 in conference play.
"It was a good weekend for Cale," Smith said. "His success this weekend was the result of all the hard work he's put in, so it wasn't surprising at all. I thought he did a great job for us."
In a battle of ranked players on court two, No. 18 Mengel outlasted No. 89 Oliveira, 6-2, 6-4, to seal the 7-0 victory for Duke. Mengel is now 25-7 overall in singles play and 11-3 from the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
The Blue Devils improve to 14-3 overall and 3-1 in ACC play with the win while moving to 7-2 on the year in home contests. Duke has now won nine of the last 11 meetings with Virginia Tech, and leads the all-time series by a 23-2 margin. Meanwhile, the Hokies dropped to 6-8 overall and 2-3 in conference action.
Duke continues its ACC homestand next weekend as it welcomes No. 63 Clemson on Friday, March 30 at 3 p.m. and No. 69 Georgia Tech on Sunday, April 1 at 12 p.m.
#6 Duke 7, #68 Virginia Tech 0 Mar 25, 2012 at Durham, N.C. (Ambler Tennis Stadium)