Blue Devils roll over Seahawks in NCAA men's tennis
A reconfigured lineup has the Duke men’s tennis team right back where it was a year ago, among the final 16 teams alive in the NCAA Tournament.
Freshmen Josh Levine and Bruno Semenzato played key roles as the Blue Devils topped UNC Wilmington 4-0 Saturday in an NCAA Tournament second-round match.
Levine and Semenzato entered Duke’s lineup after the Blue Devils were upset by Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament semifinals two weeks ago. They replaced junior Chris Mengel in both the singles and doubles lineups.
Duke coach Ramsey Smith said his team responded well after that disappointing loss to Wake.
“We had to really kind of dig down as a team and figure out what we’re all about,” Smith said.
In women’s NCAA Tournament second-round action on Saturday, No. 2-ranked North Carolina stopped Tennessee 4-1 at Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels (27-3) advance to the Sweet 16 at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Ill.
In a women’s first-round match at Lubbock, Texas, Duke (15-9) advanced with a 4-1 win over Mississippi.
In the men’s tournament, Duke survived a tight match at No. 3 doubles to capture the doubles point.
The Blue Devils easily won No. 1 doubles as Henrique Cuhna and Raphael Hemmeler bested UNCW’s Chris Cooprider and Kosta Blank by an 8-3 score. The Seahawks won at No. 2 doubles as Rafael Aita and Sam Williams edged Duke’s Jason Tahir and Michael Redlicki 8-5.
But at No. 3 doubles, Semenzato and Fred Saba outlasted Santtu Leskinen and Kaue Pereira 8-6 to give Duke a 1-0 overall lead entering singles play.
“In the doubles, it came down to a few tight points that went against us,” UNCW coach Mait DuBois said.
Duke kept the pressure on UNCW, winning the first set in four of the six singles matches.
“They really used the momentum of winning the doubles point and came out in singles on fire,” DuBois said. “The top three positions were pretty tight. But they just don’t drop off much as they go down the line.”
A pair of rain delays slowed the day’s progress. One halted play for an hour before it resumed. The match resumed indoors at the Sheffield Center following the second delay.
Duke posted wins at the bottom three singles flights to clinch the match. At No. 4, Hemmeler beat Pereira 6-0, 7-5. Tahir easily won at No. 5, 6-1, 6-1, over Blank.
Levine wrapped up the match at No. 6, beating Zach Hublitz 6-3, 6-2 Duke will play Kentucky in the round of 16 Thursday night at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Ill.
In women’s play at Chapel Hill, Tennessee’s quick start allowed the Volunteers to win the doubles point and take an early 1-0 lead. But UNC dominated in singles play to eliminate Tennessee (13-12). The Tar Heels won every set in singles, as the Lady Vols struggled to simply win a game.
At No. 4, UNC’s Caroline Price was the first to win, beating Joanna Henderson 6-3, 6-0 to even the overall match at 1-1.
ACC Player of the Year Gina Suarez-Malaguti finished off Brynn Boren at No. 1 singles 6-0, 6-2. Lauren McHale beat Tennessee’s Tiffany Tavares 6-0, 6-3 at No. 5 while Tessa Lyons’ 6-3,6-1 win over Sarah Toti at No. 6 clinched the overall win for UNC.
In the round of 16 for the fourth consecutive season, the Tar Heels will meet No. 15 Nebraska on Friday at 8 p.m.
The Duke women will play Texas Tech, a 4-0 winner over College of Charleston, today in Lubbock, Texas, at 2 p.m.