WTEN: Duke upsets No. 9 Notre Dame, 4-3

Posted March 29, 2014

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The Duke men’s tennis team knocked off No. 9 Notre Dame by a 4-3 score Friday evening at the Irish’s Eck Tennis Pavilion, collecting its third win of the season over a top-20 opponent.

Trailing 1-0 in the match after Notre Dame claimed the doubles point, the Blue Devils rebounded with a strong showing in singles to improve to 11-5 overall and 3-1 in ACC action. The Fighting Irish dropped to 13-6 on the year and 3-2 in conference play with the loss.

“This is a special win for Duke tennis and I could not be prouder of my team tonight,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “We talked before the match about competing for every point and being gritty as a team, and that is exactly what we did.”

Notre Dame jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the match after taking the doubles point and picking up an early win in singles on court six. However Duke responded with a victory in the No. 2 contest as 54th-ranked Fred Saba defeated Quentin Monaghan of the Fighting Irish, 6-2, 6-1. Junior Jason Tahir, the 48th-ranked player in the ITA singles poll, then added a point from the top spot in the lineup, taking down No. 29 Greg Andrews by scores of 6-2, 6-3, to even the match score at 2-all. Saba moved to 13-6 on the season while Tahir improved to 17-6 overall and 3-1 in conference play.

After sophomore Josh Levine surrendered a 6-4, 6-3 decision to Notre Dame’s Josh Hagar in the No. 5 slot, the Blue Devils battled back to knot the score once again at 3-all. Junior Raphael Hemmeler outlasted Ryan Bandy of the Fighting Irish in three sets on court three, winning the final set by a 7-5 margin to bring his season ledger to 13-7.

“Two of our leaders, Jason and Fred, really set the tone of focus and intensity in impressive straight-set wins,” Smith said. “Rafa [Hemmeler] saved three team match points on Bandy's serve at 3-5 in the third set and showed incredible resilience and heart.”

The match then came down to the remaining contest on court four, where 71st-ranked Bruno Semenzato and Notre Dame’s Eddy Covalschi had split the first two sets. It was Semenzato who held the upper hand in the decisive set, though, cruising to a 6-2 win to send Duke to the 4-3 team victory.

“I couldn't have been more impressed with Bruno's composure when everything was on the line,” Smith said. “He really stepped up, embraced the moment, and came through in the clutch for us.”

The Fighting Irish posted wins on courts one and three in doubles, as Hemmeler and Saba fell to Andrews and Alex Lawson, 8-5 in the No. 1 matchup and Semenzato and sophomore Daniel McCall dropped an 8-6 decision to Monaghan and Covalschi on court three.

The Blue Devils continue their ACC road trip Sunday, March 30, traveling to Dedham, Mass., to face Boston College in a 3 p.m. contest.



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