SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Duke knocked off No. 9 Notre Dame by a 4-3 score Friday evening at the Irish’s Eck Tennis Pavilion, collecting its third win of the season against a top-20 opponent.
Trailing 1-0 in the match after Notre Dame claimed the doubles point, the No. 14 Blue Devils rebounded with a strong showing in singles to improve to 11-5 overall and 3-1 in ACC action. The Fighting Irish dropped to 13-6 on the year and 3-2 in conference play with the loss.
“This is a special win for Duke tennis and I could not be prouder of my team tonight,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “We talked before the match about competing for every point and being gritty as a team, and that is exactly what we did.”
Notre Dame jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the match after taking the doubles point and picking up an early win in singles on court No. 6. However Duke responded with a victory in the No. 2 contest as 54th-ranked Fred Saba defeated Quentin Monaghan of the Fighting Irish 6-2, 6-1. Junior Jason Tahir, the 48th-ranked player in the ITA singles poll, then added a point from the top spot in the lineup, taking down No. 29 Greg Andrews by scores of 6-2, 6-3, to even the match score at 2-all. Saba moved to 13-6 on the season while Tahir improved to 17-6 overall and 3-1 in conference play.
After sophomore Josh Levine surrendered a 6-4, 6-3 decision to Notre Dame’s Josh Hagar in the No. 5 slot, the Blue Devils battled back to knot the score once again at 3-all. Junior Raphael Hemmeler outlasted Ryan Bandy of the Fighting Irish in three sets on court No. 3, winning the final set by a 7-5 margin to bring his season ledger to 13-7.
The match then came down to the remaining contest on court No. 4, where 71st-ranked Bruno Semenzato and Notre Dame’s Eddy Covalschi had split the first two sets. It was Semenzato who held the upper hand in the decisive set, though, cruising to a 6-2 win to send Duke to the 4-3 team victory.
“I couldn't have been more impressed with Bruno's composure when everything was on the line,” Smith said. “He really stepped up, embraced the moment, and came through in the clutch for us.”
The Fighting Irish posted wins on court Nos. 1 and 3 in doubles, as Hemmeler and Saba fell to Andrews and Alex Lawson 8-5 in the No. 1 matchup and Semenzato and sophomore Daniel McCall dropped an 8-6 decision to Monaghan and Covalschi.