Coastal loses to No. 9 Duke in first NCAA appearance

The Coastal Carolina men’s tennis team fought hard in the program’s first NCAA appearance, but ninth-ranked Duke lived up to its national ranking as the Blue Devils took a 4-0 win over the Chanticleers Friday afternoon at Ambler Tennis Stadium.

The Blue Devils (22-5) jumped out to an early lead after dispatching Coastal’s top two doubles pairs.

Duke’s second-ranked pair of Henrique Cunha and Raphael Hemmeler proved to be too much at No. 1 for Coastal’s Garik Yedigarian and Matias Di Pasquale. The Blue Devil duo grabbed an early lead that would not be relinquished for the remainder of the match, despite the best efforts of Yedigarian and Di Pasquale. The Coastal pair made a brief rally to capture several points, but Cunha and Hemmeler hung on to take an 8-4 victory.

The situation was much the same at No. 2 doubles, where Fred Saba and Bruno Semenzato quickly took the upper hand over John Karle and Leo Christofides. After getting down 3-0, the Chants worked to battle out of their hole, but Duke’s sizable lead proved to be too large as Saba and Semenzato sealed the doubles point with an 8-4 win.

The No. 3 doubles match between Coastal’s Ted Nilsson and Yusuke Kusuda, and Duke’s Jason Tahir and Daniel McCall, went unfinished with the Blue Devils holding a 5-4 lead.

Duke then continued to play strong in singles, winning the first set on every court.

Kusuda was the first Chant to bow out of the match for Coastal, falling in straight sets to ninth-ranked Cunha of Duke 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1.

Down 2-0, Coastal began to surge back in the second sets on the five remaining courts. Christofides was able to put the pressure on #43 Saba at No. 2 after winning the second 6-3. Meanwhile, on court five, Di Pasquale evened up the second set at five games apiece against Josh Levine.

The Coastal comeback would not last long however, as Semenzato downed Hunter Whalen at No. 6 to claim Duke’s third point, and #74 Hemmeler won 6-3, 7-6 (7-2) at No. 3 over Yedigarian to end the match.

“I thought we came out a little tentative on one of the doubles courts,” said head coach Chris Powers. “When you’re playing a top 10 team in the country that’s going to cost you, and it cost us today, but we played them very well in doubles in the second half of the point. In singles it seemed like we really hit our stride, and I’m so impressed we were able to make the number nine team in country fight for a victory today.”

The Chanticleers finish the most successful season in the program’s history with a 15-6 overall record. Meanwhile, Duke advances to the second round of the NCAA Team Championships where it will meet UNCW, who defeated South Carolina earlier Friday morning.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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