For the seventh consecutive time, the men's tennis team won its opening round match at the prestigious National Team Indoor Championships by downing No. 9 Texas 4-3 on the strength of superior depth.
The No. 8 Blue Devils (6-1) will square off against top-ranked UCLA (10-0) today at 12:30 in the tournament quarterfinals.
Duke was forced to comeback twice against the Longhorns (3-3), trailing 1-0 and 3-2 before pulling out the victory. Texas earned the doubles point by winning at second and third doubles to take a 1-0 advantage.
Phillip King, who is yet to lose this season, evened the score with a 6-1, 7-6 decision in the No. 1 slot. King, a two-time All-American, prevailed over No. 19 Jean Simon. Sophomores Jason Zimmerman and Peter Schults won at flights four and six, respectively.
The Blue Devils dropped the second and third singles, however, as both senior Michael Yani and freshman Ludovic Walter fell 6-3, 6-4.
The deciding match came at the fifth singles slot, where freshman Jonathan Stokke was in a dogfight with Texas' Roger Gubser.
After splitting the first two sets, Stokke held a 5-4 advantage and was serving in the closing set. The freshman was unable to hold, however, giving Gubser and Texas a chance to hand Duke its second loss of the year. But Stokke persevered and pulled out the final two games, winning 6-1, 3-6, 7-5.
Duke will need a near-flawless performance against UCLA, at team that has defeated the Blue Devils in three of the last four Indoor Team Championships. In addition, the Bruins have advanced to the finals of this event in five of the past seven years and have won ITA/USTA team championships seven times.
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