Duke goes into Saturday’s home opener against Elon and N.C. Central not only geared up for the official beginning of its season, but also relieved to finally return junior Luke Marchese to the court.
Suffering a serious wrist injury at the beginning of the school year, Marchese was forced to miss the entirety of the fall season. The New Jersey native is 39-13 in singles for his career and holds the school record for the most ACC singles victories in one season, with 10. After seeing nothing but the sidelines throughout the entire fall, Marchese is anxious to start playing again.
“I’ve been rehabbing all fall and now with this match this weekend I am right there and right where I want to be,” Marchese said.
Marchese has had six career match-clinching point victories and is 4-2 all-time against ranked opponents in singles. Typically playing the No. 5 or No. 6 spot for the team, Marchese serves as a steady contributor to Duke in singles points, and is unquestionably an integral member of the No. 14 Blue Devils’ lineup.
“Every time I go out there I focus on doing my part,” Marchese said. “That means winning my match and getting my point. Everything that I do sends an energy, and I try to keep that energy up.”
Driving the charge this weekend against the unranked Phoenix and Eagles will be team leaders, Reid Carleton and Henrique Cunha. The nation’s fifth-ranked singles player, Carleton recently received his highest career ranking after the best season of his life, head coach Ramsey Smith said, attaining a 13-2 record overall in singles and an 8-2 record against ranked players.
Cunha has been ranked among one of the top players in the nation since he was a freshman. The sophomore won the ITA Carolina Regional singles championship this fall and ended the fall season with a 13-2 record—seven of those victories against ranked opponents. Cunha and Carleton play the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively, and team up to play No. 1 doubles together, where they have a 13-2 record on the season.
“Reid and Cunha are our leaders and our captains and they are our two rocks,” Smith said. “They are playing really good tennis right now, both singles and doubles, and the team really follows their lead. I’ve stressed to the other guys not to rely on them though. Make sure that we are taking care of business on both sides of the court.”
And taking care of business is just what the Blue Devils hope to do come Sunday. Marchese said the success Duke saw through the fall has given the team high expectations for this year.
“There is a big buzz in the locker room, and everyone is expecting big things from us,” Marchese said. “I just want to take care of my match then and there every time.”
The Blue Devils play Elon at 12 p.m. and N.C. Central at 6 p.m this Sunday in the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.
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