Both Clemson's and Duke's men's tennis teams were looking for a close match on Saturday to tune up for the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, which begin this Thursday in Greenwood, S.C. Despite this wish, however, the match was nearly over before either team really got warmed up.
After winning the doubles point by sweeping all three doubles matches, Duke cruised through the singles matches to clinch a 6-1 victory over the Tigers.
"We were hoping to build a little momentum going it to the ACCs," said Clemson head coach Chuck Kriese, "but we got waxed today."
The match, the last ACC contest for both clubs, earned the Blue Devils (15-5 overall, 6-2 in the ACC) the third seed in the upcoming conference tournament, while Clemson (12-9, 5-3) will hold on to the fourth seed.
After Duke's 4-3 defeat at the hands of North Carolina last Thursday, there were questions as to how Duke would react to the loss. The Blue Devils answered any critics early on as they blitzed through the doubles matches by returning to top form. Freshman Dmitry Muzyka and junior Sven Koehler beat Clemson's Bruce Li and Mitch Sprengelmeyer 8-5 at the No. 1 doubles. Duke senior Rob Chess and junior Adam Gusky had no problem with Rich Reyes and Ryan Bauer at the No. 2 position, winning 8-2, while senior Peter Ayers and freshman Jordan Wile followed suit, winning at No. 3 doubles 8-5.
Chess-who has been hobbled recently by an ankle injury he received in the UNC match-sat out during singles play, causing the Blue Devils' entire lineup to shift up. Duke still blew by the Tigers with surprising ease, led by its top three singles players.
At No. 1 singles, No. 42 Muzyka beat Sprengelmeyer 6-4, 6-3. Koehler, ranked No. 66 in the nation, beat last year's ACC rookie of the year, Li, 6-3, 6-3 at the No. 2 spot followed by Ayers dispatching of Reyes 6-2, 6-4 at No. 3 singles. Along with Jordan Murray's 7-5, 6-2 win at No. 6 singles, the Blue Devils' straight-set wins gave them a commanding 5-0 lead.
Despite the fact that the match had already been clinched by Duke, the teams played out the remaining singles match. Things became heated as both of Clemson's remaining players were given a point penalty because of Clemson coach Kriese's behavior following Li's loss to Koehler.
Clemson's Ken Wasserman was still able to outlast Wile at No. 5 singles 6-0, 2-6, 6-4, while Gusky turned the tables on Bauer at No. 4 singles despite losing the first set. Gusky's 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory gave him his sixth ACC victory of the year and a perfect 6-0 singles record.
Although Clemson came close to Duke in a few of the singles matches, Kriese was not happy with his players' performances, as was evident in his post-match comments.
"Taking someone to three sets means that you could have won, but you couldn't get it done," he said.
After the match was over, Kriese could be heard yelling at his players for talking to the "enemy," and for spending more time "talking to girls in the stands" than "playing tennis." After having a team meeting for approximately 45 minutes after the match, Clemson then broke from the meeting and started practicing serves.
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Duke, on the other hand, was not only given time off from full practice for the rest of the day, but will rest until Tuesday for the upcoming ACC Championships.
"It's just nice for us to get a victory going into the ACCs," Duke head coach Jay Lapidus said. "There were some close matches... now, we need to lay off for a day or two and we'll all be ready to go on Thursday."