No. 13 Duke men’s tennis falls to TCU in Super Regionals, ends postseason run

Faris Khan hits a backhand in the NCAA tournament.
Faris Khan hits a backhand in the NCAA tournament.

Fresh off solid wins at home in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, the Duke men’s tennis squad flew to Texas with its postseason on the line. However, the team found its end in the Super Regionals for the second year in a row.

As commencement exercises began on Duke’s campus, the tennis crew left Durham to take on TCU. At Friedman Tennis Center in Fort Worth, a light breeze, cloudy skies and 80-degree weather provided the setting as the Blue Devils fell to the Horned Frogs in a hasty 4-0 loss to conclude the team's run for the NCAA title.

No. 13 Duke (20-10, 9-3 in the ACC) began the match against No. 4 TCU (25-4) in doubles play, with the Blue Devils finding themselves at an early disadvantage. On court 1, redshirt senior Garrett Johns and sophomore Pedro Rodenas — the No. 1 ranked doubles team in the country — gave up two service breaks to become the first doubles set to conclude, losing 6-2. Shortly after, the duo of graduates Andrew Zhang and Michael Heller were edged out on court 2 7-5, clinching the doubles point for the Horned Frogs.

Now down 1-0, the Blue Devils would need to win four of six matches to keep their season alive as singles play began. Midway through first-set play, though, the scoreline spelled trouble for Duke as Johns, Rodenas and Faris Khan trailed in their respective matches, ultimately each dropping the first set 6-2. Meanwhile, Zhang narrowly fell in the first set 7-5 and junior Connor Krug scratched the first and only set for the Blue Devils 6-4, all while freshman Alexander Visser was locked in a neck-and-neck battle on court 6. Throughout the stands, chants of “T–C–U–Frogs!” could be heard from the enthusiastic home crowd.

As second-set play commenced, the Horned Frogs’ momentum appeared too great to overcome. In a flash, Johns and Rodenas each went down 5-0. Rodenas was the first Duke player to suffer defeat, as a big serve and volley from TCU’s Jake Fearnley concluded the match 6-2, 6-0. Shortly thereafter, Johns too fell after managing to hold onto one game in the second set for a final of 6-2, 6-1. With the team score now 3-0 for the Horned Frogs, all eyes turned to court 5 where Khan lagged 5-1 in the second set. Only one more match was needed to seal the victory for TCU, and it found the win after a wide kick serve from Lui Maxted went unreturned by Khan for a 6-2, 6-1 triumph.

With the loss on court 5 ensuring a team win for the Horned Frogs, the remaining matches finished prematurely with Krug ahead 6-4, 2-3 and Visser locked in a first-set tiebreaker. The players shook hands for the last time of the season and the scoreboards froze reflecting the 4-0 TCU victory as it advances to the quarterfinals against Kentucky.

The defeat in Fort Worth ends the team’s 2023-24 season. Johns, who plans to go pro after this season, and Rodenas will compete individually in the NCAA Individual Championships as at-large selections. They will compete as a pair in the NCAA Doubles Championships where they are the No. 1 seeds and favorites for the national title. These begin May 20 in Stillwater, Okla.


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