Duke men's tennis splits weekend road testsAt this early point in the season, the Blue Devils were willing to trade a tough loss for the experience of rebounding from it.
After falling 4-2 to an aggressive No. 14 Tennessee squad Friday at the Goodfriend Tennis Center, No. 13 Duke proved its resilience by topping Michigan 7-0 at the Varsity Tennis Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“Today I think we competed exceptionally well,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “Today, all six guys came out with the best energy they have all season, and it paid off for us.”
Following from last week’s victory against No. 19 Illinois, freshman TJ Pura remained undefeated in his dual match career by defeating Michigan’s Barrett Franks in a three-set contest. After dropping the first set 6-3, Pura battled back to take a tight 6-5 second set. Pura traded match points with Franks in a third-set tiebreak before finally closing it out 11-9.
Junior Cale Hammond stepped in to help out the team, playing doubles alongside sophomore Daniel McCall at the third position. Although the match was suspended after the Blue Devils (5-3) clinched the doubles point, Smith said Hammond played exceptionally well against Michigan (3-3).
“Winning the doubles point was really critical,” Smith said. “We got to play from ahead in doubles, and I think that really the relaxed guys.”
No. 52 Jason Tahir cruised to a victory in the third singles spot. The junior recorded a convincing 6-0, 6-4 win against the Wolverines’ Shaun Bernstein shortly after sophomore Josh Levine finished off Michigan’s Kevin Wong 6-3, 6-2. Junior Raphael Hemmeler clinched the match with a 6-3, 6-5 victory against the Wolverines’ Alex Buzzi.
“[Tahir] has really found his range,” Smith said. “He came out with a really aggressive mindset and played well.”
As for the loss to the Volunteers (9-1), Smith said he does not see it as a setback, but rather as an opportunity for continued improvement for his squad.
“I think we competed really well against Tennessee," he said. "We didn’t execute as well as we could have but I wouldn’t say that we lost the match—Tennessee won it.”
As a result, Smith hoped his team would not get too discouraged going into Sunday’s contest and continue competing as well as it had earlier that weekend.
“I think we really came out hungry, and it was a good bounce back for the guys,” Smith said. “It was something we needed, and I was happy to see this kind of effort from all of them.”