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Duke pair falls in doubles finals

Duke’s tandem of Jonathan Stokke and Peter Rodrigues played many doubles matches together last year and adjusted to each other’s play. The well-oiled team picked up from where it left off a year ago and placed second in the Southern Intercollegiate Tournament Monday.

“[Stokke and Rodrigues] complement each other well and their games really match each other,” head coach Jay Lapidus said.

The seventh-seeded Blue Devils faced Tennessee’s Ockie Oosthuizen and Ben Rogers in the finals. The veteran unseeded Volunteer duo had a tougher road to the finals, upending the fifth, fourth and first-seeded doubles teams. The Tennessee team maintained the momentum, bringing down Stokke and Rodrigues 8-4.

Earlier Monday in the semifinals, the Duke team was the underdog to third-seeded Southern Alabama’s Franticek Babej and David Kepka. Babej eliminated Rodrigues in a close three-set singles match Saturday, but Rodrigues avenged his loss with an 8-3 doubles win to advance to the finals.

“We won a few key points, which broke [Southern Alabama] down,” assistant coach Jon Needer said. “It was a pleasant surprise to beat them.”

After Virginia Tech’s Arvid Puranen and Stephane Rod eliminated the second-seeded Georgia pairing in second round, Duke had an easier than expected quarterfinal matchup. Although the Bulldogs could not handle the Hokies’ aggressive play, Stokke and Rodrigues consistently returned their opponents’ powerful serves and avoided an upset with an 8-4 win.

The Blue Devils played their closest match of the tournament in the second round. Against Mississippi’s Bram ten Berge and Fredrik Aarum Duke controlled the tempo of the match and earned an 8-6 win.

The Duke pairing faced a fired-up Vanderbilt duo in the first round. The Commodores came out strong, but their play quickly trailed off.

Stokke and Rodrigues will look to continue their success next weekend at Chattanooga’s All-American Tournament.

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