DURHAM, N.C. – No. 14 Duke came out strong in its first match of the ITA Kickoff Weekend, sweeping No. 24 Michigan 7-0 at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.
“We knew it would be tough coming in and would be a good test to see where we stand,” said senior Jared Pinsky. “Everyone came to play and came with a lot of energy and focus. We didn’t let up until the end.”
Duke was firing on all cylinders at the start of both doubles and singles, jumping out to early leads. The Blue Devils won at the No. 1 and 3 positions to take the doubles point and then won five of the six first sets in singles as they went on to victories on all six courts.
“This was the perfect start to our weekend,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “We have been focusing on doubles and was pleased with how we looked there. We started off really well on all three courts. David Holland and Chris Mengel on court No. 3 brought a lot of energy and we took advantage of our momentum gained early on into the first set of singles.”
In doubles, No. 12 Reid Carleton and Henrique Cunha picked up a ranked win against No. 28 Jason Jung and Evan King 8-4. The two Duke players improved to 15-2 on the year. The win clinched the doubles point after David Holland and Chris Mengel picked up an 8-3 victory over Barrett Franks and Justin Rossi.
The Blue Devils got a lift from junior Luke Marchese at the No. 6 spot in the order. He quickly finished his match 6-1, 6-2 to stretch the lead to 2-0. He is off to a 3-0 start after missing the fall season due to a wrist injury.
Two courts next to each other, the No. 3 and 5 matches, finished back-to-back. Freshman Chris Mengel, who is ranked No. 118 in singles, downed Justin Rossi 6-2, 6-4, and then senior Jared Pinsky clinched the match for Duke on a service ace for a 6-3, 6-4 win over Chris Cha.
“When the guy next to you is playing really well and has high energy you feed off that,” Pinsky said. “I came out and wanted to be aggressive and attack the net. I went after the ball and served well so to end with an ace just capped a great day.”
After the match was clinched the other three courts left to finish were played out. On court No. 4, freshman Fred Saba won a super tiebreaker (10-6) after he and Shaun Bernstein split the first two sets. No. 9 Henrique Cunha was the next to finish as he defeated Evan King 6-3, 6-4 at the No. 1 spot. No. 5 Reid Carleton earned his ninth win against a ranked opponent, winning in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 against No. 35 Jason Jung.
The Blue Devils improved to 4-0 on the season while Michigan dropped to 1-2 overall. Duke will play again on Saturday at 6 p.m. against the winner of the Pepperdine/Virginia Tech.