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MTEN: Duke falls short against No. 7 Virginia, 5-1

Posted March 23

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— The 13th-ranked Duke men’s tennis team fell to No. 7 Virginia, 5-1, Sunday, March 23 at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. The match, aired live on ESPN3 as part of the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) College Match Day nationwide series, dropped the Blue Devils to 10-5 on the season and 2-1 in conference action, while Virginia improved to 12-2 overall and 4-0 against ACC opponents.

“It was a hard-fought match,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “We definitely had our chances. I thought Virginia played really well, especially at a couple spots where they won pretty quickly. It felt like we just got overpowered in those positions. But I felt like we were really in all of the other matches.”

The six singles matches were played first, in conjunction with the USTA College Match Day series format. Doubles were scheduled to be played only if the match was tied 3-3 at the end of singles.

The Cavaliers opened up the contest with a pair of straight-sets victories on courts one and three, as 58th-ranked Fred Saba surrendered a 6-2, 6-3 decision to No. 33 Alex Domijan and 92nd-ranked Bruno Semenzato fell to No. 45 Ryan Shane, 6-1, 6-3. Virginia then extended its lead in the match to 3-0 as sophomore Daniel McCall was unable to hold off the Cavaliers’ J.C. Aragone after a tight first set, falling 7-5, 6-2.

Needing to win the remaining three courts in singles, the Blue Devils mounted a late charge. Sophomore Josh Levine earned Duke its lone point on court five, defeating Virginia’s Justin Shane, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4. Duke’s leader in singles wins this season with 25, Levine won five consecutive games to take the first set, 6-1. In the second set, he fell behind early to Shane, never taking the lead en route to a 2-6 second set. In the third-set tiebreak, Levine asserted himself, tying the match at 4-4 before winning the final two games to secure the victory.

On court two, 40th-ranked Jason Tahir rebounded from a 6-3 loss in the first set to force the Cavaliers’ Mitchell Frank into a second-set tiebreaker. Tahir had the early advantage in the tiebreak but Mitchell, the nation’s sixth-ranked player, would go on to win, 7-5, clinching the match for Virginia.

The action on court four featured a marathon match between junior Raphael Hemmeler and Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of the Cavaliers. After Kwiatkowski took the first set, 6-4, Hemmeler battled back with a strong showing in the second, winning a tiebreak 7-4. The third set was also decided by a tiebreaker, with Kwiatowski coming out on top to round out the 5-1 match score.

The Blue Devils continue ACC play next weekend, traveling to Notre Dame Friday, March 28 and Boston College Sunday, March 30.

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