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No. 8 Duke cruises past ACC foe Clemson

For just a moment, it looked like Duke's eighth-ranked men's tennis team was in serious trouble.


 The Blue Devils' top doubles pair of Ludovic Walter and Jason Zimmerman had been upset, and an upstart Clemson Tigers team had taken advantage of a flat Duke start to secure the doubles point and a 1-0 lead.


 Yet after a tongue-lashing from coach Jay Lapidus, the Blue Devils (13-5, 3-1 in the ACC) roared back, taking five of the six singles matches en route to a 5-2 victory over Clemson (16-10, 1-4).

"Their coach came up to me after the doubles point and said, 'It looks like you guys won the national championship two weeks ago.'" Lapidus said. "He pointed out that we looked really complacent, like we were satisfied with our doubles and the way we thought things were going to go. Luckily, the guys turned it around."


 Clemson got an early edge when sophomore Jarmaine Jenkins and junior Nate Thompson knocked off Duke's third-ranked tandem of Walter and Zimmerman. Just minutes later, a Tigers duo of Ryan Young and Brett Twente beat Duke's Stephen Amritraj and Peter Rodrigues.


 "We had some chances, they had some," Walter said. "It all goes really fast in doubles.... They're a very good team; they were ranked in the top 10 all of last year."


 The Blue Devils returned with a vengeance in the singles matches after the animated talk with Lapidus, who was visibly angry with his team's effort.


  "I kind of reached my boiling point and got a little upset with them," Lapidus said. "I have a pretty long fuse, but I thought our doubles are a lot better than we showed in this particular match."


 Duke responded by dominating the first sets of the singles matches, winning four out of the six, including three by at least four games. The early-set success set the tone for four consecutive straight-set victories.


 Sophomore Jonathan Stokke was the first to finish, routing Clemson's Young by a final score of 6-3, 6-0. Shortly thereafter, seventh-ranked Duke senior Phillip King defeated Thompson, 6-1, 7-5, and Walter earned a straight-sets victory over Jenkins. Zimmerman then defeated Clemson sophomore Ash Misquith in straight sets to seal the match.


 "I thought we did a nice job coming off the doubles loss," Lapidus said. "We came out and won a lot of first sets easily, and that really helped us. I feel like that set the tone for us continuing to roll through the singles."


 The victory is Duke's second since a stunning loss at Florida State March 21, the Blue Devils' first regular-season ACC loss since 1996.


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