Duke sweeps weekend
Last year, Duke secured its first Round of 16 berth in four years. After this weekend’s play, there was no question that the Blue Devils deserve to return to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, with sweeps of Maryland (13-13) and George Washington (15-9) in consecutive 4-0 matches.
On Friday, eleventh-seeded Duke (22-9) got off to a hot start against the Colonials and never stepped off the gas, winning 4-0.
The Blue Devils won the doubles point behind an 8-2 victory by Reid Carleton and Henrique Cunha and an 8-1 win by Fred Saba and Torsten Wietoska. David Holland and Chris Mengel were up 7-1, a mere game away from winning their match, when the previous Duke duos secured the doubles point. The victory was Carleton and Cunha’s 76th as a doubles team, breaking the school record for most wins by a doubles team, a record previously held by Peter Ayers and Rob Chess.
“It means a lot,” said Cunha. “[Carleton’s] more than a doubles partner, he’s a friend too. We felt confident, knew we could win both matches, and played aggressive. That was the key.”
The dominance continued in singles, with all six Duke players winning their first set. Mengel, a freshman, made the biggest statement, winning in straight sets 6-0, 6-0 at the No. 3 position. Cunha, winning 6-2, 6-2, and Carleton, a 6-4, 6-3 victor, also made quick work of their opponents, completing the 4-0 win and sending the team to the second round for the 20th-straight season.
The second round matched the Blue Devils against ACC rival Maryland, and while the individual scores were closer the overall outcome was unchanged. The Terrapins proved to be tough outs in doubles, with both the No. 1 and No. 2 matches going to a tiebreaker. Saba and Wietoska won 8-4 to give Duke the edge, but Maryland responded with a win at the No. 2 spot. As if it was scripted, Cunha and Carleton won in a tiebreak, 9-8, 7-4, and for the second straight day had something to celebrate about. After the doubles victory, head coach Ramsey Smith couldn’t have been happier with his No. 1 doubles team.
“It’s amazing especially since they’ve only played together two years,” said Smith. “It’s one of the most amazing years I’ve ever seen.”
The match was a nail biter in doubles, but Duke fired on all cylinders in singles, once again winning the first set in all six singles matches. Cunha, Carleton, and Mengel each swept their singles matches to secure another 4-0 win.
“Once we really get going we’re hard to stop,” said Smith. “We’ve beat some great teams and we’re going in with a mentality we can make a real run.”