Duke dropped its last home match of the season Wednesday, so it will hope that a pair of road wins will restore some confidence heading into the postseason.
The Blue Devils won both of their matches last weekend to finish the season a perfect 9-0 in conference road matches and clinch the No. 3 seed entering the ACC tournament, which will take place this weekend in Cary, N.C.
No. 5 Duke (20-4, 9-2 in the ACC) traveled first to Maryland (7-14, 4-7), where it dropped the doubles point before recovering in singles for a 5-2 victory. Sunday’s trip farther north to Boston College saw the Blue Devils emerge with a 7-0 sweep of the Eagles (5-14, 1-10).
The doubles duo of junior Henrique Cunha and sophomore Chris Mengel won both of its weekend matches, but the other doubles teams were not so successful, as the No. 2 and No. 3 pairings both fell to the Terrapins Friday before recovering against cellar-dwelling Boston College.
Duke was led in singles play by Fred Saba at No. 4, and freshman Jason Tahir, who played No. 6 against Maryland and No. 5 against Boston College as his classmate Raphael Hemmeler sat out the second match of the weekend. Saba registered the first singles victory Friday to tie the match at 1-1, defeating Jesse Kiuru 6-0, 6-3. He provided the clinching point Sunday, putting Duke ahead 4-0 with a 6-4, 6-1 dispatching of the Eagles’ Jonathan Raude. Saba’s win Sunday was his 10th consecutive singles victory and made him just the third Duke tennis player in school history—alongside Mengel and senior Luke Marchese—to record 10 singles victories in a single season of conference play.
Tahir was the second singles player off the court Sunday after Saba, taking down Klaus Puestow by a 6-3, 6-0 score, but his Friday match was a more critical win for the Blue Devils. After Saba tied the match up at 1-1, Mengel was upset by Maryland’s Vlad Stefan to put Maryland in the lead once again. But the freshman duo of Hemmeler and Tahir finished off their straight-set victories at No. 5 and No. 6, respectively, to put Duke ahead 4-2 and earn it the win.
The pair of victories earned the Blue Devils a second-place tie with North Carolina in the conference standings after Maryland upset the Tar Heels Sunday. Both Duke and North Carolina finish at 9-2, but the Tar Heels’ hard-fought 4-3 victory over Duke last week gives the Chapel Hill squad the head-to-head advantage and the No. 2 seed in the ACC tournament. Virginia, undefeated in ACC play, will be the top seed. Duke will receive a first-round bye in the conference tournament and will face the winner of sixth-seeded N.C. State and 11th-seeded Boston College Friday.