May 12, 2012
DURHAM, N.C. - The George Washington men's tennis team dropped a 4-0 decision to No. 8 Duke on Saturday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Blue Devils' Ambler Tennis Stadium.
The Colonials close out the season with an overall record of 17-8 after falling to the Blue Devils in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. GW earned the automatic bid to the tournament - its second straight and second-ever NCAA appearance - after defeating Xavier, 4-3, in the 2012 Atlantic 10 Championship on April 15.
"Last year it was tough to see how competitive we could be with a team ranked as high as Duke, but this year we realized we can definitely compete at that level," said sixth-year head coach Greg Munoz. "We will put ourselves to the test next year with a tough schedule, and when we start playing at that level more often it will become the norm to beat nationally ranked opponents."
Seniors Ugur Atalay and Richard Blumenfeld competed in the final match of their careers at the Nos. 2 and 6 singles spots, respectively. With the loss of the duo to graduation, Munoz is slated to return six players to the 2012-13 roster.
Nationally ranked Duke - which is seeded eighth in the tournament - boasts three singles players who are nationally ranked by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), in addition to a nationally ranked doubles tandem.
The Blue Devils (23-5) opened the afternoon with a 1-0 lead after claiming the doubles point at the Nos. 1 and 3 positions. The duo of junior Alexander van Gils and Ulrik Thomsen fell to Henrique Cunha and Chris Mengel - ranked 16th in the country by the ITA - by an 8-0 mark. At the No. 3 spot, senior Richard Blumenfeld and freshman Mike Kachkar dropped an 8-2 decision to Raphael Hemmeler and Torsten Wietoska.
Duke took a 3-0 lead after earning straight-set victories at the Nos. 5 and 6 positions. Hemmeler downed sophomore Viktor Svensson, 6-1, 6-1, at the No. 5 spot and Jason Tahir defeated Blumenfeld, 6-2, 6-3, in the sixth flight.
In No. 1 singles, freshman Francisco Dias battled with Henrique Cunha, currently the fifth ranked singles player in the ITA. Dias and Cunha battled through the first set, exchanging points, but the GW rookie ultimately fell in straight sets, 6-4, 6-0 to Duke's top performer.
#8 Duke 4, George Washington 0
No. 1 - #5 Henrique Cunha (DU) def. Francisco Dias (GW) - 6-4, 6-0
No. 2 - #38 Chris Mengel (DU) vs. Ugur Atalay (GW) - 6-4, 2-2 (unfinished)
No. 3 - #113 Torsten Wietoska (DU) vs. Alexander van Gils (GW) - 6-3, 3-2 (unfinished)
No. 4 - Fred Saba (DU) vs. Leonardo Lapentti (GW) - 6-0, 2-5 (unfinished)
No. 5 - Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. Viktor Svensson (GW) - 6-1, 6-1
No. 6 - Jason Tahir (DU) def. Richard Blumenfeld (GW) - 6-2, 6-3
No. 1 - #16 Cunha/Mengel (DU) def. Thomsen/van Gils (GW) - 8-0
No. 2 - Saba/Holland (DU) vs. Atalay/Dias (GW) - 5-3 (unfinished)
No. 3 - Hemmeler/Wietoska (DU) def. Blumenfeld/Kachkar (GW) - 8-2