Sheffield Indoor pulsated with the energy of Cameron Indoor as Duke men’s tennis gritted its way to a memorable victory over No. 24 Arizona State.
Down 1-0 after doubles and dropping the first two of the six singles matches, the Blue Devils battled to win four straight singles matches to take down the Sun Devils 4-3 Friday evening at Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.
“I’ve been doing this for a lot of years and it was definitely one of the more memorable comebacks,” explained head coach Ramsey Smith. “Just a great college tennis match. Down 3-0, four three setters, have to win all of them, [I] felt like we really grabbed momentum and started getting the belief there in the last half hour.”
Spencer Furman clinched the Duke victory on Court 2, defeating Justin Roberts 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. After Roberts failed to return Furman’s final serve, the Blue Devils rushed the court and celebrated their sweet win with a boisterous crowd of Cameron Crazies who took a break from tenting to watch the match.
“That’s why you come to Duke,” Furman said. “For a match like this, for fans like this.”
While Furman secured the victory, the spark of momentum started with senior Vincent Lin’s Court 6 victory over Arizona State’s Benjamin Hannestad. After dropping the first set 5-7, Lin dug in and took the second 6-1 before clinching his victory 7-5 in the third.
After Lin secured the Blue Devils’ first point of the evening, the Sheffield crowd started to believe that there was a chance for Duke (2-0) to pull off the upset. Then, junior Nick Stachowiak beat out Dominik Kellovsky in another three set battle to pull the Blue Devils back into the contest, 3-2.
While the Sun Devils (0-1) still remained a match away from taking the duel, Duke wouldn’t give up. On Court 3, sophomore Sean Sculley won the Blue Devils' third three-setter 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 to even the scoreboard at 3-3. All eyes in Sheffield turned to Furman on Court 2, eagerly watching him seal an improbable Duke comeback.
“I was just trying to jump so I didn’t get injured cause I remember last time I was going towards Cat and I might have headbutted him a little bit so didn’t want that to happen,” Furman said of the dogpile on the court.
Duke’s remarkable victory may be even more notable due to recent roster shakeups. Freshman Robert Maciag is no longer on the team and senior Catalin Mateas has returned to the Blue Devil squad. Additionally, Vincent Lin rejoined Duke after a two-year hiatus from the program.
“It added to the sweetness of the victory. Dealt with a lot of adversity as a team and had a couple of guys step up,” Smith said. “I felt like we really started coming together as a unit this past week, week and a half and were able to put ourselves in a position to come through in the end.”
The Blue Devils will look to carry their momentum into a tough road match against Kentucky Monday at noon.
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