May 8, 2009

Courtesy Radford Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – In a match that was a lot tighter than the score indicated, No. 51 Radford fell to No. 23 Duke 4-0 in the opening round of the 2009 NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament Friday at the Goodfriend Tennis Center on the University of Tennessee campus.

With the victory, the Blue Devils (16-8) advance to the Round of 32 and await the winner of No. 5 Tennessee and East Tennessee State, while the Highlanders conclude their 2009 campaign with an impressive 20-4 mark.

Duke became just the third team in 24 matches this season to put the Highlanders in an early 1-0 deficit by claiming the doubles point.

The Blue Devils put themselves one win away from grabbing the first point of the dual with an 8-2 victory in the final doubles contest.

Despite falling behind 2-0 on court one, Radford’s 54th ranked duo of Martin Sayer (Hong Kong/Sagemont Virtual) and Zack Watson (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite) won eight of the next nine games to defeat No. 71 Kiril Dimitrov and Alain Michel, 8-3, and put all the attention on the decisive second match.

After the first and third matches were decided in convincing fashion by each team, the second-seeded contest went to a tiebreak with the Blue Devils’ 90th ranked tandem of Dylan Arnould and David Holland ending Ivan Salec (Oroslavje, Croatia/Oroslavje Secondary) and Mehdi Benhammou’s (Rabat, Morocco/Descartes) 13-match winning streak with a 9-8 (7-2) decision.

Duke pushed its team advantage to 3-0 with straight-set wins from Jared Pinsky (6-4, 6-1) and Arnould (6-4, 6-2) at singles positions four and three, respectively.

On court two, Salec forced a third set with a 6-2 win of his own in the second before Dimitrov, the nation’s 56th ranked individual clinched the match for the Blue Devils with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 triumph.

In the feature singles match of the afternoon, No. 102 Sayer and No. 42 Reid Carleton were tied one set a piece on the first court before the affair was decided.

Along with Sayer receiving a singles invite for the fourth straight year, Radford’s top doubles team of Sayer and Watson, who improved to 19-2 with their doubles win earlier in the day, became the first duo in school history to earn an at-large selection to the 2009 NCAA Doubles Championships.

The 64-player singles championship and 32-team doubles championship will take place May 20-25 in College Station, Texas, following the team championships hosted by Texas A&M (May 14-19).

May 08, 2009 at Knoxville, Tenn. (Varsity Courts)
(NCAA Tournament Round 1)
#23 Duke 4, #51 Radford 0
Singles competition
1. #42 Reid Carleton (DU) vs. #102 Martin Sayer (RADFORD) 6-7 (2-7), 6-1, 3-0, unfinished
2. #56 Kiril Dimitrov (DU) def. Ivan Salec (RADFORD) 6-2, 2-6, 6-3
3. Dylan Arnould (DU) def. Stefan Bojic (RADFORD) 6-4, 6-2
4. Jared Pinsky (DU) def. Mehdi Benhammou (RADFORD) 6-4, 6-1
5. Alain Michel (DU) vs. Igor Ogrizek (RADFORD) 1-1, unfinished
6. Torsten Wietoska (DU) vs. Zack Watson (RADFORD) 2-2, unfinished

Doubles competition
1. #54 Martin Sayer/Zack Watson (RADFORD) def. #71 Kiril Dimitrov/Alain Michel (DU) 8-3
2. #90 Dylan Arnould/David Holland (DU) def. Ivan Salec/Mehdi Benhammou (RADFORD) 9-8 (7-2)
3. Reid Carleton/Torsten Wietoska (DU) def. Igor Ogrizek/Stefan Bojic (RADFORD) 8-2

Match Notes:
Radford 20-4; National ranking #51
Duke 16-8; National ranking #23
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (4,3,2)
Doubles No. 2 tiebreaker (7-2)
Singles No. 1 tiebreaker (7-2)