Playing without the services of one of their top players, the Blue Devils saw their string of success in Winston-Salem, N.C., come to an end.
No. 6 Wake Forest dispatched Duke 6-1 Saturday at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex, handing the Blue Devils a second straight loss against a top-10 ACC opponent and their first loss in Winston-Salem since 2008. The Demon Deacons seized the doubles point and never looked back, dropping Duke back below .500 on the season.
Freshman Catalin Mateas did not take the court for the Blue Devils (11-12, 4-6 in the ACC) Saturday, depriving head coach Ramsey Smith of its regular court two singles player and half of its top doubles tandem. Mateas had spent the past three conference matches on court one alongside classmate Vincent Lin, and had delivered two wins, but without the Braintree, Mass., native in the lineup, Lin slid down to court three, where he was joined by senior Josh Levine.
That tandem struggled against the Wake Forest duo of Romain Bogaerts and Dennis Uspensky, who downed Lin and Levine 6-2 to clinch the doubles point for the hosts. On court one, freshman Jason Lapidus and senior Daniel McCall suffered a similar fate, falling 6-1 to the 10th-ranked pairing of Skander Mansouri and Christian Seraphim.
On court two, sophomore Nicolas Alvarez and junior T.J. Pura were locked in a battle with the 51st-ranked pairing of Petros Chrysochos and Jonathan Ho, but once the Demon Deacons had clinched the doubles point, that match was abandoned at an even 4-4 draw.
Wake Forest kept things rolling in singles, with No. 24 Chrysochos leading the Demon Deacons off the courts with a 6-2, 6-2 win against Lin on court two. Soon after, Seraphim followed suit with a 6-4, 6-3 win against McCall at fifth singles, giving Wake Forest a commanding 3-0 lead in the match.
Duke staved off defeat briefly when No. 26 Alvarez upset No. 13 Mansouri on court one, 6-4, 6-4. But whatever momentum the captain's victory gave the Blue Devils was short-lived, as Bogaerts put a bow on the match with a 6-4, 7-5 triumph against Levine on court four.
The teams elected to play out the remaining matches, both of which went in Wake Forest's favor. After dropping the first set 2-6, Duke freshman Adrian Chamdani battled back to upend Uspensky 6-3 and force a decisive third set. But the Demon Deacon freshman regained his footing in the final frame, delivering another 6-2 win to increase the advantage to 5-1.
Pura put forth a valiant effort on court three, but could not outlast Ho. Like Chamdani, the junior dropped the first set 2-6 before responding to even the match with a 7-5 second-set victory. But in a first-to-10 third set, Ho pulled away to win 10-3, cementing the final score.
As the regular season enters its final week, the Blue Devils have work to do to pull back into the middle of the pack in the ACC standings. Duke will host Clemson Friday at 3 p.m. before facing top-ranked North Carolina Sunday at 1 p.m. on Senior Day.
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