It took eight years for the Duke men's tennis ACC win streak to end, and when it did yesterday against Florida State, it took a grueling three-hour singles match to do so.
With the score even at three, in the final match of the afternoon, Peter Rodrigues lost to FSU's Chris Westerhof in three sets. Westerhof took the first set 6-4, and Rodrigues took the second 6-3, to bring the match into a third set, which Westerhof won 6-3.
Starting out, it was just another ACC match for Duke in Tallahassee, Fla. The team was riding a 3-0 spring break road trip to California and had jumped into the fourth spot in the national polls. However, after the Seminoles fought back from a 3-1 Duke edge to win 4-3, this regular ACC competition became the first ACC loss for the Blue Devils since 1996, ending their 58-match conference winning streak.
"All season long we've been right there knocking on the door and today we finally did it," Florida State head coach Dwayne Hultquist said, about winning against top-ten competition.
Duke swung to an early 2-0 lead, sweeping the doubles matches and winning at No. 5 singles. At No. 1 doubles, the fourth-ranked pair of Ludovic Walter and Jason Zimmermann edged out No. 22 Westerhof and Jeff Groslimond 9-7. No. 9 Phillip King and Jonathan Stokke recorded a 8-6 win at the second doubles spot with Stephen Amritraj and Rodrigues rounding out the doubles sweep. At No. 5 singles, Zimmermann defeated Chip Webb 6-4, 6-1.
Florida State fought back against the deficit, winning at the first singles spot. The match pinned the last two ACC Players of the Year--Duke's No. 11 King and FSU's Mat Cloer, the nation's No. 20 singles player--against each other.
After winning the first set, Cloer was down 5-3 in the second set, only to come back to win 7-5, securing the first point of the afternoon for FSU.
Duke scored the next point with a win at No. 6 singles in which Christopher Brown defeated Joao Paolo Bounassar 6-4, 6-4. Duke again had a two-point lead but, for the second time in two days, FSU rookie Jonathas Sucupira upset a top-30 player. His upset against Duke took the form of a 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 7 Walter at the second singles spot.
FSU evened the score at 3 apiece with a three-set win at No. 4 singles. Duke's Stokke won the first set 6-3 over FSU's Groslimond. Groslimond evened the match with a 6-3 win in the second set. The third set was back and forth between the two opponents with Groslimond leading 3-1 after holding serve twice, and Stokke then going ahead 4-3. However, after tying at four, Groslimond took the lead to win the set 6-4. With this three-set win behind them, FSU turned to the No. 3 singles spot, with Westerhof earning a three-set victory for the team.
"Chris has been in a position a couple of times this year where he could have won the match for us, but ended up losing, so it was great to see him come through with a victory for us," Hultquist said.
This match served as the beginning of a pivotal ACC stretch for the Blue Devils, who now have a three-day break before traveling to Wake Forest for their second of four straight ACC matches.
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