In its first match since 2008, the ASU men’s tennis team fell to the Duke Blue Devils by a score of 5-2.
After a decade without a men’s tennis program, Arizona State played its first match in 10 years on Saturday, falling to No. 25 Duke. The Blue Devils won the doubles point and four of the six singles points, getting them past the four needed points for victory.
Duke won two of the three doubles matches to get them the doubles point. Benjamin Hannestad and Tim Ruehl lost their match to Ryan Dickerson and Jason Lapidus, 6-1, and Thomas Wright and Andrea Bolla also lost for the Sun Devils at the hands of Nicolas Alvarez and Spencer Furman by a score of 6-3.
However, ASU did win one of the doubles matches. Makey Rakotomalala and Michael Geerts took down Nick Stachowiak and Sean Sculley, 6-2, winning five consecutive games after a 1-2 start. It was not enough to get them a point in the match, but Rakotomalala said Geerts is his ideal doubles partner.
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“We have good communication,” Rakotomalala said. “I’ve known him since I was like 14 years old, so we mix really well.”
Rakotomalala also won his singles match against Stachowiak, giving the Sun Devils their first point since the team folded in 2008.
Following the ASU point, Furman and Sculley answered back, winning both of their matches and giving Duke a 3-1 match lead.
ASU got another point on the board when Hannestad finished off Mateas in two sets, narrowing the Blue Devil match lead to 3-2.
Geerts and Will Kirkman both won their first sets in singles, but both allowed their opponents to come back and add two more Duke points to the scoreboard, making the final score 5-2.
“We didn’t execute well,” head coach Matt Hill said. “When we got into that stage where we were in control and we needed to finish, the execution was really, really low today.”
Coach Hill said another weak spot for ASU in the season opener was the team’s offense, particularly in singles.
“I would say offense in the singles play,” Hill said. “We saw a lot of passivity from our players, allowing the tactics to move and what’s favorable for the other player, and that’s obviously not good for us.”
Despite the loss, Geerts said he was impressed in the crowd and the fan turnout.
“The crowd was amazing,” Geerts said. “I really hope they will be there a lot of the matches. It was awesome to see them there cheering us on.”
Arizona State plays their next game tomorrow against No. 7 Texas A&M, but Geerts said the mindset is the same against the Aggies as it was against Duke.
“Texas A&M has a great team,” Geerts said. “They’re lineup is really good, but as I said, our ambitions stay the same. It’s not because we lost today that we have to change our ambition. We need to be focused, and we need to be ready to play a very good team tomorrow.”
Tomorrow’s match against the Aggies will begin at 1:00 PM MT, and it can be viewed on the ASU Live Stream.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.