Hammond captures his draw for Duke men's tennis at Wake Forest Invitational
Redshirt junior Cale Hammond captured the first singles title of his career in the B2 singles draw to lead a strong effort by four of Duke's less-experienced players in Winston-Salem, N.C. Hammond was joined by freshman T.J. Pura and sophomores Daniel McCall and Josh Levine.
Levine finished second in the A1 singles draw, Pura captured the consolation final in the B1 singles draw and McCall finished seventh in the A2 singles draw.
"It was definitely a very good weekend for us," head coach Ramsey Smith said. "I felt like all four guys improved significantly from All-Americans and we had some pretty significant results, especially with Cale."
Hammond defeated Santtu Leskinnen of UNC Wilmington in the B2 final in straight sets to post a 4-0 mark in singles for the tournament. Levine went 3-1 in singles, falling to Wake Forest's Max Kan in straight sets in the A1 final.
In doubles, Pura and McCall finished fifth in the A bracket while Hammond and Levine fell in the third-place match to Kan and Aws Laaribi to take fourth. With all four Blue Devils playing four singles matches and multiple doubles matches, valuable experience was to be gained for players who had seen less action during their careers.
"I thought we competed extremely well and had good attitudes the whole way through," Smith said. "We were much better with the things we could control and we performed better. As a result, our results were better."
Hammond, Levine, Pura and McCall will be joined by more of their teammates, most likely sophomores Bruno Semenzatio and Michael Redlicki, junior Raphael Hemmeler and senior Fred Saba at the ITA Carolina Regional this week in Cary, N.C. Duke will be co-hosting the event.
"We had a good talk as a team after All-Americans," Smith said. "We really decided that we needed to work on some simple things and do some things better at these tournaments in individual matches.... The first step was Wake Forest. I think it gives the team a boost going into regionals.... Hopefully we can continue the momentum."
After the ITA Carolina Regional, Duke will compete in the National Indoor Championships and the Dick Vitale Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic, meaning that the Wake Forest Fall Invitational was likely the team's last fall tournament with a smaller field.
"All of these events are opportunities," Smith said. "There were still a lot of really good players at the Wake Forest tournament. Every match is an opportunity to improve and gain confidence.... Our younger guys got some really good matches under their belt and played very well. Those four are going to be very prepared going into regionals and hopefully the rest of the team can feed off of that."