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Nicolas Alvarez ousted in opening round of NCAA men's tennis singles championship

<p>Nicolas Alvarez struggled to find his footing against an aggressive opponent, losing his first competitive match in more than a month in straight sets.</p>

Nicolas Alvarez struggled to find his footing against an aggressive opponent, losing his first competitive match in more than a month in straight sets.

Sophomore Nicolas Alvarez’s hopes of making a deep run in postseason play were spoiled Wednesday afternoon.

Alvarez, the No. 22 player in the country, concluded his sophomore campaign with a 6-2, 6-3 loss to No. 15 Tom Fawcett of Stanford in the first round of the NCAA singles championship at the Michael Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla. After a slow start, Alvarez struggled to maintain a rhythm and capitalize on opportunities to extend the match.

"First rounds are often tricky and Nico ran into a very tough opponent today,” Duke head coach Ramsey Smith told GoDuke.com. “Fawcett played some great tennis from start to finish and he is an aggressive player with a huge serve.”

Alvarez was the only member of Smith’s quad—which failed to advance to the team championship—to qualify for the singles tournament.

Fawcett pressured Alvarez with his aggression from the outset, winning six of the first eight games and taking a 2-0 lead in the second set. Alvarez fought back to even the set at 2-2, but Fawcett quickly regained his momentum as he captured the next three games.

After Alvarez stayed alive by holding serve to trim the deficit to 5-3, Fawcett held to seal the victory. 

“Nico hung in there and was close to turning things around, especially in the [second] set, but just didn't convert on some of the big points,” Smith said.  

Despite the early exit after advancing to the round of 32 as a freshman, Alvarez—who played mostly at Duke’s No. 1 singles spot—had a strong season, finishing with a 17-15 overall record and receiving first-team All-ACC honors for a second consecutive year. 

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