No. 4 Duke kicks off ACC play with sweep of No. 24 Wake Forest
DURHAM, N.C. -- Sophomore Jason Tahir captured a doubles victory and sealed the team win in singles, as eighth-ranked Duke opened its Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) schedule with a 7-0 sweep against No. 24 Wake Forest on Friday at the Ambler Tennis Stadium. The Blue Devils improved to 13-3 on the season and 1-0 in conference play, while Wake Forest fell to 12-4 on the year and 0-1 in conference action.
“I am really happy with how we rebounded again from a very tough loss in California,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “We worked on being more aggressive as a team and playing on our terms. I thought we did a great job of that [on Friday].”
Duke opened the match by capturing the doubles point for the 14th time this season. The duo of Michael Redlicki and Tahir captured the first win with an 8-3 win on court two against the Demon Deacon pair of Danny Kreyman and Adam Lee. The win marked the 18th victory this season for the pair, including a 10-2 mark in the spring. The tandem of Henrique Cunha and Raphael Hemmeler, who reclaimed the top spot in the ITA doubles rankings earlier this week, sealed the opening point for the Blue Devils after downing the Wake Forest pair of Amogh Probhakar and David Hopkins 8-4. The duo of Cunha and Hemmeler own a team-leading 23 wins on the season.
After Duke won the opening point, the two squads played out the remaining match on court three as Fred Saba and Chris Mengel matched up against Wake Forest’s Jon Ho and Sam Bloom. The Blue Devil tandem was able to stave off three match points in a tiebreak, before breaking through to defeat Ho and Bloom, 8-7 (6).
“Doubles was great [Friday],” Smith said. “I thought we came out with really good energy and played an aggressive style. I thought we really took it to Wake, particularly at one and two. At three, we did a really good job of hanging in there after we were down triple match point and played some big tennis when we needed to.”
In singles, Hemmeler captured the first singles victory of the day at the fifth position, as he overwhelmed Wake Forest’s Morgan Mays 6-3, 6-1. Redlicki gave the Blue Devils a commanding 3-0 lead after he defeated Kreyman at the No. 3 position 6-4, 6-1. Redlicki trailed in the first set 1-4 before coming back to win 11 of the final 12 games and capturing his 21st victory of the season.
“I stuck with it and fought for every point,” Redlicki said of his play after getting down early. “I did not want to lose my first ACC match outdoors. I just told myself, ‘I am not losing this match, regardless.’ I was proud of myself for getting back into it.”
Tahir clinched the match for the Blue Devils from the No. 6 position, as he defeated Ho 6-2, 6-4. Tahir quickly jumped out to a 4-2 advantage on his way to taking the first set 6-2. In the second, he was able to come back from a 1-4 deficit to win five consecutive games and earn the victory against Ho. Tahir remained perfect in the dual season at 10-0, while he and Hemmeler are a combined 21-1 in the spring when playing from the fifth and sixth positions in the lineup.
“It is cool that Rafa [Hemmeler] and I have been able to play well in singles,” Tahir said. “It is good that we are able to contribute and be strong spots for the team.”
On court one, Cunha remained undefeated on the season, as he downed Hopkins 7-6 (5), 6-1, while Saba won his match in a third-set tiebreaker from the No. 2 position against 56th-ranked Prabhakar 6-3, 6-7 (2), 1-0 (10-8). Mengel completed the sweep of the Demon Deacons, as he defeated Lee at the No. 4 position in straight sets 6-3, 7-5.