Duke co-hosted the ITA Carolina Regional this weekend along with N.C. State at the Cary Tennis Park in Cary, N.C., but came home without any championship hardware.
More than 128 players from 24 teams across North and South Carolina competed from Friday through Tuesday for a spot in the 2017 ITA Oracle National Fall Championships in Indian Wells, Calif., Nov. 1-5. The Blue Devils ended their run Tuesday morning with a doubles loss in the semifinals.
Freshman Sean Sculley and sophomore Nick Stachowiak were the last team remaining for Duke. It wasn’t the first time they have played together—they teamed up two years ago to make the final of the Juniors National Championship and the quarterfinals of the 18-and-under main draw at the U.S. Open.
“The actually have a history of playing together, given this was the first time they played together in college,” Blue Devil head coach Ramsey Smith said. “They complement each other fairly well and have a great feel for doubles. They click.”
The young duo swept through the Round of 64 against N.C. State's Morgan Lohan and Tristan Smith, only dropping two games per set. The Round of 32 victory came with some luck. Wake Forest opponents Bar Botzer and Alan Gadjiev withdrew from the tournament, giving Sculley and Stachowiak a free pass to the Round of 16, where they met Kasey Countee and Freddie McGeehan from East Carolina and defeated them 6-3, 7-5.
The Blue Devils found their way to the semifinals after defeating Furman’s Cameron Green and Jake Munns 7-5, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
Sculley and Stachowiak started off strong Tuesday morning by taking the first set 6-2 against the tournament’s top-seeded team from N.C. State, Alex Galarneau and Michael Ogden. Duke then let the second set slip away by a tight score of 5-7. With the scoreboard even at one set apiece, the two teams played a first-to-10 super tiebreaker for the third set. Galarneau and Ogden came out on top with a 10-8 victory for a spot in the finals.
“Getting a team in the semifinals was big for us,” said Smith. “It came down to a point or two at the end and almost pulled off the upset to make it to the finals. They’re certainly two of our better doubles players.”
The Wolfpack duo had already beaten another Duke doubles team earlier in the tournament. Juniors Jason Lapidus and Catalin Mateas fell to the pair 7-5, 6-3 in the Round of 16. As for the Blue Devils' third doubles team, redshirt junior Nicolas Alvarez and sophomore Spencer Furman were defeated in the quarterfinals by Clemson’s Simon Baudry and Alex Favrot 6-4, 6-3.
The Blue Devils had an almost perfect first two rounds of singles play by dropping no matches in the Round of 128 and only dropping two matches in the Round of 64. Junior Ryan Dickerson lost to N.C. Central’s Gabriel Cucalon 6-4, 6-1, and Lapidus fell to Winthrop’s Diego Quiroz 6-3, 6-1. No. 34 Alvarez won all 24 games he played in the first two rounds.
The Round of 32 brought a lot of trouble for the Blue Devils. Four of their five remaining players all lost to South Carolina players, as No. 34 Alvarez topped a Wake Forest opponent to become the only Duke player to advance to the Round of 16.
Three of the Blue Devils' four Round of 32 defeats went to a third set. Paul Jubb defeated No. 44 Furman 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. Stachowiak took the first set easily from Yancy Dennis 6-0, but Dennis stormed back to win the second and third sets 6-4, 6-3. Mateas also had a one-set lead on Thomas Mayronne, but ended up losing 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Sculley, Duke’s lone freshman, lost in straight sets 6-2, 6-2 to yet another Gamecock opponent, Gabriel Friedrich.
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“It’s my old assistant coach Josh Goffi, so maybe he stole some of our notes,” Smith joked. “But it was just one of those things where it came down to a couple of points. We had chances in all of those. They were a little bit tougher in the bigger moments.”
Alvarez made a run to the quarterfinals by beating Garner Webb’s Maximillian Scholl 6-2, 6-1 in the Round of 16, but fell 6-3, 7-6 (4) to Favrot, who also took out Alvarez in the doubles draw and made it to the singles finals.
“All three doubles teams played well and had some great moments,” Smith said. “Singles, I would say overall, was a solid tournament. I think that third round was tough for us, but before and after that I thought we played some good tennis. Nico Alvarez looked great making it to the quarters.”
The Blue Devils will return to the court Oct. 27 two hours down the road in Charlotte, where they will play in the 49ers Fall Invitational.