On the road again.
For Duke, playing away from home is no stranger, especially in the month of March. As the Blue Devils entered their final two away matches of a six-game stretch of weekends outside of Durham, they needed their best tennis to secure two victories.
On Friday and Sunday, the 15th-ranked Blue Devils did just that. In Duke’s two matches of the weekend, it swept Clemson 7-0 and took down Georgia Tech 6-1, both away from home. Following the two ACC victories, Duke moves to 13-5 overall and 6-1 in ACC play.
“I'm really proud of the guys for going five out of six,” Duke head coach Ramsey Smith said. “We played our best tennis this weekend out of the [last] three weekends.”
Against Clemson, Duke fought for a hard-earned doubles point. Dramatically, the first doubles pair of senior Garrett Johns and freshman Pedro Rodenas and the third doubles team of sophomore Connor Krug and freshman Teddy Truwit both took down their counterparts from Clemson (10-8, 1-5 in the ACC) in a tiebreak.
“The doubles point was extremely close,” Smith said. “We were in three simultaneous tiebreakers. We just did a really good job maintaining composure.”
Using the momentum from doubles, Duke cruised to six singles victories, headlined by Faris Khan’s 7-5, 6-0 clinching victory on court six. Khan’s win was his first ACC singles victory of the season.
“I want to highlight not only Faris, who clinched both matches, but Jake [Krug],” Smith said. “Both of those guys have not been in the lineup recently, but they've been working extremely hard.”
Although the match was already decided, Johns completed the sweep on court one, even after dropping his first set. A second set 7-5 tiebreak victory coupled with a 13-11 super tiebreak result moved Johns to 10-6 in singles play this year.
As a prize for the victory, Duke hit the road for the sixth match in a row, this time in Atlanta against Georgia Tech (11-9, 2-4).
“In my coaching career I've never had six ACC road matches in a row,” Smith said. “I’m getting a lot of Marriott points.”
The Yellow Jackets put up a fight in the tightly contested doubles point. However, they failed to break the Blue Devils’ talented singles lineup. Despite forcing a third set in two of their five singles losses, Georgia Tech could not grab a result in a single one, and Duke ran away with a commanding victory.
“We're 6-1 [in the ACC], we're playing really well,” Smith said. “We still know we have to work to get better.”
Perhaps the player of the day was Rodenas, securing Duke’s doubles point on court one with Johns 7-6 and topping a talented Marcus McDaniel 7-5, 6-4 on court two. With the singles victory, the Madrid native moved to 16-2 on the year.
“We put [Roedenas] in [second singles] for both matches this weekend,” Smith said. “McDaniels is an established player [who’s] won a lot of big matches. Pedro just keeps getting better and better. That was huge for him to pull through.”
Also tallying points for the Blue Devils were the Krug twins, Connor winning 6-4, 6-3, and Jake coming back to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 on courts four and five, respectively.
Duke’s sole loss came on court one as Johns fell 6-3, 6-2 to Georgia Tech’s Andres Martin. The loss mark’s the senior’s fourth loss in five singles matches. As a result, Johns will look to get back on track as Duke’s premier option against the Demon Deacons.
Moving forward, the Blue Devils return home to face Wake Forest next Friday and N.C. State on Sunday.
“The beauty of [the scheduling] is we play all of April within a 20-mile radius of home,” Smith said. “We have some great opportunities coming up.”
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