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Men's tennis dominates Furman in season opener

CHAPEL HILL -- Although the wintry weather brought some Duke sports to a halt this weekend, the men's tennis team moved indoors Sunday and kicked off its spring season with a 7-0 pounding of the Furman Paladins at the Chapel Hill Tennis Club.

Duke, ranked No. 4 in the nation, had little difficulty eliminating Furman and achieved a near-perfect win. Only one Blue Devil dropped a set throughout the entire match.

Setting the winning tone were the three doubles wins to open up the match. Sophomores Rob Chess and Peter Ayers, undefeated as a doubles team in the ACC last year, netted a win at the No. 1 doubles spot, defeating Chris Henderson and Brian Rudisill, 8-4.

Junior Chris Pressley and sophomore Jordan Murray had little competition at No. 2 doubles from Furman's Erik deVries and Greenwood and defeated them 8-1.

The No. 3 doubles team of freshman Sven Koehler and junior Philippe Moggio were victorious over Furman's Chris Muller and Andy Case, 8-6.

In the singles competition, the Blue Devils again found few problems in putting away Furman. At No. 4 singles, Murray played the only three-set match of the day but pulled out the win over Case, 6-0, 4-6, 6-2.

"Jordan's intensity dropped off a little," head coach Jay Lapidus said. "He won the first set 6-0, and he was kind of cruising. He's a player that relies a lot on intensity. It dropped off a little, but then he started playing better and climbed back into it. You can almost discount the second set from Jordan's standpoint. It wasn't too tough [during] the first and third sets."

The only other match where a Paladin took more than three games off a Blue Devil was Ayers' battle with Brian Rudisill at No. 2.

Ayers is ranked 45th in the nation after a successful fall season but needed to fight off Rudisill for a 6-3, 7-5 victory.

"Peter played really well," Lapidus said. "It usually takes him a couple of matches to get going in the year, just to see some more action. It was just a little bit of [first-match jitters]."

Pressley, the third-ranked player in the nation and a 1993 All-American, easily defeated Henderson 6-2, 6-1 at No. 1 singles.

Chess, ranked 33rd nationally, played at the No. 3 slot and also gained a solid victory by disposing of Muller, 6-2, 6-0. Moggio made fast work of deVries beating him 6-0, 6-1, at No. 5 singles. Koehler, at No. 6 singles, was the lone freshman to see action on Sunday. Like his teammates, though, he had no problem overcoming his opposition, as he beat Jennings Pitts 6-1, 6-1.

"Sven's intensity was really high," Lapidus said. "He's the type of guy if he gets his motivation up high, he's such a talent. [Koehler] is going to be a great player for us. That's his first of many wins for us."

The Blue Devils' next match is Feb. 20 against Virginia Tech. That match will be a final tune-up for the National Team Indoors, a tournament featuring many of the top teams in the NCAA on Feb. 23-27.

Duke is scheduled to open up against nationally-ranked LSU in a rematch of last year's NCAA tournament first round match, which Duke won. If Duke wins, it will face No. 3 Southern Cal in the second round.

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