Collegiate tennis is a game of fighting for enough points from individual match wins to top your opponent's tally. But after a trying afternoon of working for all those points, Duke came up short and lost to No. 5 Miami 4-3 Sunday in Ambler Stadium.
The Hurricanes (6-4, 3-1 in the ACC), boast one of the best lineups in the conference, and Miami offered Duke (5-4, 0-1) difficult matchups all day.
Duke's top singles player, Reid Carleton, fell in two sets to Miami's Daniel Vallverdu, 6-3, 6-2. Before defeating Carleton, Vallverdu teamed with David Rosenfeld to beat Duke's top doubles pair of Alain Michel and Kiril Dimitrov 8-2. That, combined with Vallverdu's quick win over Carleton, put Miami up early and propelled it to the eventual win.
"We put ourselves in a hole early, and I thought that if we got one quick singles match, we would have been on track," head coach Ramsey Smith said. "We were up a set in a couple and just couldn't quite close it out. They don't have any holes in the lineup, and there wasn't one spot that we could take advantage of. We have to do a little work on doubles, because losing that doubles point makes things a little harder against these better teams."
Dimitrov rebounded in singles play to beat Miami's No. 2 singles player, Christan Bloecker. The Hurricane player, who looked strong in the first two sets, slowly became agitated with Dimitrov's relentless drive and allowed him back into the match to win the last set, 6-4. Dimitrov staved off five match points in the middle of the second set.
Feeding off of Dimitrov's play, Michel came back to dominate his third set, 6-2, hoping that his win would give Duke the boost it needed.
"I felt like if I could come back, the whole team could come back," Michel said.
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