After a strong performance at the All-American Championships in Tulsa, Okla. last week, the Blue Devils are ready to compete for another preseason victory to help build momentum for the upcoming season.
Junior Fred Saba, freshman Daniel McCall and freshman Josh Levine will head to Winston-Salem, N.C. to compete in the Wake Forest Fall Invitational this weekend, a brand new tournament slated to begin Friday.
“We’ve had all the players on the team, from freshman to senior, perform very well at the tournaments so far,” Saba said. “We’re looking to keep it rolling and keep the momentum going.”
The Blue Devils are confident in the depth of this year’s team, hoping that the results from the past few weeks will translate to team victories in the season ahead.
“We look at these fall tournaments as an opportunity for match play,” head coach Ramsey Smith said. “The goal is for everyone to get a bunch of matches under their belts and put ourselves in a good position once we start the dual-match season in January.”
Saba, No. 111 in the ITA in preseason singles rankings, advanced to the finals of the white singles bracket at the Fab Four Invitational in Cary, N.C. Alongside partner Chris Mengel, Saba also pulled out a convincing 8-3 victory in the final of the black doubles bracket. His strong performance, he hopes, will carry him to individual success this weekend.
“As a junior, I’m realizing that I don’t know how much longer I’m going to play tennis,” Saba said. “I’m just looking to enjoy every match I play and make sure that I give myself the best shot and win every match possible.”
As Saba approaches the end of his tennis career at Duke, the freshmen look to start the year off right, building confidence for the upcoming season and bolstering their rankings by competing and winning as many matches as possible. McCall said that although this weekend’s tournament will only benefit his individual ranking, watching his teammates succeed in preseason play has him brimming with anticipation for the upcoming season.
“When you’re out there competing, you really want to do well for the team and for the other guys,” McCall said. “Everyone’s really excited about what we can accomplish in the spring and hopefully all the work we have put in will pay off.”
Saba will open the tournament against Liberty’s Siim Tuus at 1 p.m. Friday. Levine will face UNC Wilmington’s Chris Cooprider and McCall will compete against UNC Greensboro’s Gaston Murray. McCall and Saba will compete together in the tournament’s doubles draw as well. As the tournament looms ahead, the trio’s coach is confident Duke will execute according to plan.
“I think they’re prepared,” Smith said. “They’ve just got to go out there and compete hard, have good attitudes and things will come together.”