Duke men's tennis wins both Sunday double-header matches against Princeton, N.C. Central

Alexander Visser and Teddy Truwit won their doubles match against N.C. Central 6-1.
Alexander Visser and Teddy Truwit won their doubles match against N.C. Central 6-1.

After a lot of anticipation, the 2024 dual-match tennis season is officially underway for No. 8 Duke. The Blue Devils concluded their opening weekend on a positive note, defeating Princeton 4-3 and N.C. Central 7-0. 

Duke is returning the majority of its key pieces from a Sweet 16 run a year ago, and they shined bright in the opener. 

“It was a very tough physical weekend,” said head coach Ramsey Smith after the matches. “I've never scheduled three matches in two days before…but really wanted to challenge this group and we didn't play our best tennis but we were pushed and we competed well.”

Against the Tigers, the Blue Devils earned the doubles point after victories by the two best pairings. Redshirt senior Garrett Johns and sophomore Pedro Rodenas teamed up at the No. 1-spot to defeat Paul Inchaupse and Sebastian Sec 6-3. On court 2, graduates Michael Heller and Andrew Zhang clinched the 6-3 win after a big service game from Zhang. 

The two have played doubles together for awhile, but  Heller dealt with injury last year. They are now both healthy and playing at their best. 

“They have a great connection, they're best friends, their games complement each other,” Smith said. “When they’re in the right mindset, they're very free flowing and play aggressive fun doubles.”

The singles rounds featured five familiar faces for the team and an exciting newcomer on court 6, freshman Alexander Visser. 

Johns started his match on court 1 well, winning the first set against Fnu Nidunjianzan 6-0. However, the Tiger settled in and came back, and Johns tossed his racket in frustration as Nidunjianzan went up 3-1 and eventually 6-3 to take the second. 

Meanwhile, Rodenas, who is coming off an impeccable freshman year, had the opposite course as Johns, losing to Inchaupse in the first 6-4 but winning the second set 6-3. Nothing was certain as many of the singles matches were locked up in tight contests. 

However, Duke quickly strung together some key points to turn the match in its favor. Johns used his rifling forehand and consistent ground game to escape with a three-set victory, putting the Blue Devils up 2-0 in the match. Johns played professionally during the fall, and returned for his final year of college this season. 

“He's definitely come back stronger,” Smith said. “He's moving extremely well out of the corners. He's a lot more physical. His forehand has improved a lot, and he's also serving really well.”

Visser demonstrated impressive maturity and won his first collegiate singles match against Aleksander Mitrio 6-4, 6-4, and Duke needed just one more singles win. 

“Extremely impressed with Visser,” Smith said. “You never know how people are going to handle the nerves of your first duel match. It's just very different than anything else you do in tennis. He seemed totally fine, played extremely well today.”

That clinching win came from court 3, as the consistent Zhang concluded his undefeated singles weekend with a defeat of Sec. While he double-faulted on match point in the second set, Zhang bounced back and played a solid tiebreak to win the match 6-4, 7-6 (7-1).

The evening featured an in-state contest as the N.C. Central Eagles came to Duke’s campus. The Blue Devils won convincingly and tested out some new pairings and singles lineups. 

Johns teamed up with junior Jake Krug — the clincher against VCU Saturday — and beat Oliver Saarinen and Leo Fortier-Gariepy 6-1. In addition, Visser and sophomore Teddy Truwit played a smooth set of tennis to clinch the doubles point on court 3. 

All seven singles players won, and Truwit, Rodenas, Heller and Faris Khan got their first singles wins of the season, showcasing the depth of the team. 

“We have a lot of options,” Smith said. “Every match, there's four guys that don't play singles that could play singles. Another piece of that is having a team that really cares about each other, that puts the team first and that can handle not being in there.”

Duke next will host the ITA Kickoff Weekend, first facing N.C. State Saturday at 12 p.m.


Ranjan Jindal profile
Ranjan Jindal | Assistant Blue Zone editor

Ranjan Jindal is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.

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