For Nicolas Alvarez, the ITA All-American Championships offered the chance to carry some recently-gained international experience with the Peruvian national team in Davis Cup action into collegiate play.
But instead, the junior struggled to get on track in his first college event of 2016-17.
The No. 14 singles player in the country, Alvarez fell to No. 48 Logan Smith of Southern California 7-6 (7), 6-2 in the first round of the event's main draw in Tulsa, Okla., Thursday at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center before being bounced in the consolation bracket Friday by No. 70 Josh Hagar of Notre Dame 7-5, 6-0 Friday.
Duke sent four other players to the tournament, freshmen Nick Stachowiak and Robert Levine, sophomore Catalin Mateas and senior TJ Pura. The quartet won matches in prequalifying and qualifying but was unable to make the event's main draw.
"I was very pleased with the tennis from Catalin and the two freshmen, Robert and Nick. In his first fall season as he was injured last fall, Catalin is really putting in the work and seeing improvements,” Blue Devil head coach Ramsey Smith told GoDuke.com. “Nick had three good wins before unfortunately dealing with a minor back injury. Robert had a breakthrough tournament and showed that he can play at a ranked college level right away.”
Levine came the closest of the Blue Devils' other plays to making the main draw, knocking off Alec Adamson of the University of California-Davis and Texas Tech's Ronit Bisht of Texas Tech 7-5, 6-1 and 6-2, 6-1, respectively, in the first two rounds of the qualifying draw.
But the decorated freshman saw his run come to an end in a tight three-set match against California's Filip Bergevi 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (5). The No. 9 freshman in the country, Levine upset the No. 2 freshman in Bisht before falling to the No. 77 singles player in the nation in Bergevi, showing he has the potential to make a big splash the rest of the season.
Mateas also competed in the qualifying draw, knocking off Georgia Tech's Carlos Benito in straight sets before dropping a three-set match to Texas' Yuya Ito 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
Stachowiak played well in three strong wins in the pre-qualifying round, defeating Vihn Pham of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Texas A&M's Kevin Lam and Maxx Lipman of Florida before falling Oct. 2 to Alex Keyser from Columbia 6-2, 6-1. Pura also secured two pre-qualifying match wins.
"As with any fall tournament involving multiple players, we had some good moments and some areas where we can improve,” Smith said.
The Blue Devils will look to build off of their experience in Tulsa as they move on to the ITA Carolina Regional beginning later this week in Cary, N.C. Duke had one player make it to the event's Round of 16 in singles last year.
"Overall, All-American was a step forward from the [season-opening] Bonk Invite and we just need to continue to focus on the process of growing and getting better,” Smith said.
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