Cunha, Jenkins advance to quarterfinals in both NCAA singles and doubles
URBANA, Ill. -- The pressure of playing in any NCAA tournament is intense. Try playing in two at the same time.
Henrique Cunha of Duke and Virginia’s Jarmere Jenkins have both moved on to the quarterfinals in the individual and doubles tournament, a feat that is difficult to accomplish.
On Friday morning in singles play, No. 8-seed Cunha cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 victory against No. 9-16 seed Kyle McMorrow.
Jenkins finished more than an hour later with a close 7-6(8), 2-6, 6-4 win against No. 9-16 seed Ray Sarmiento.
Doubles proved to be even tougher for the two ACC players. Cunha and partner Raphael Hemmeler battled the intense Florida State team of Blake Davis and Dominic Cotrone to eke out a 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 win.
“It was an extremely tough match, very up and down…we just focused point-by-point and tried to win point-by-point and we were just happy to win a match that could have gone either way,” Cunha said of surviving the ACC matchup.
Jenkins and partner Mac Styslinger also rallied from being down one set and pushed for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory against Mississippi.
“I think we came out and started fighting harder for each point. [Jenkins and I] just focused in and tried to hold our serve,” Styslinger said. “When one is a little down, the other tries to pick the other one up. I think we both were playing well out there in the end.”
With the team championships completed, some of the pressure has eased off. With Jenkins representing the 2013 NCAA title winner and Cunha being a part of second-best doubles team in the country, they have made their schools proud and are excited to represent the ACC.
“I think that it’s great that we have two ACC players in both singles and doubles. I think about all of the training we have done throughout the season, and it’s been really, really hard, so [the tournament] is like being on the playground compared to that,” Jenkins said.
Cunha’s partner Hemmeler agreed with Jenkin’s sentiment.
“The focus [between tournaments] doesn’t really change. It’s [Cunha’s] senior year, his last year. I am extremely motivated by him. We still represent Duke, so we have to let it all out on the court,” he said.
However, Cunha and Jenkins must prep their bodies between matches and every night in order to remain in top playing condition.
Ice baths, early bed times, stretching and massages are necessary for them staying as healthy as possible during tournament time.
“My body feels fine; I am doing a good job recovering between each match. Being a senior, I have direct experience in this. I hope I can keep winning them both,” Cunha said.
This is the fourth year in a row that Cunha has been to the singles tournament and third year that he has qualified for doubles play.
Jenkins has also been to the singles tournament for the last four years and has participated in the doubles tournament the last three years.
“When we got to the finals in the previous years, it [was] really tough to come back and play in the singles events after coming in runner-up, but I was definitely a lot more relaxed [this year]…I just tried to go out there and have fun,” he said.