DURHAM, N.C. - The Intercollegiate Tennis Association released its preseason singles and doubles rankings Friday with Duke well represented in the first poll of the 2012-13 season.
Four Blue Devils were listed among the top 125 singles players in the country, with senior Henrique Cunha leading the way as the nation's top-ranked player. The team captain closed out the 2011-12 campaign ranked fourth overall and earned All-America honors in singles for the third consecutive year after reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA Singles Championships in Athens, Ga. He also became the first player in program history to advance to the singles quarterfinals on three occasions and owns a career ledger of 117-26 (.818) in singles heading into his final season.
Joining Cunha in the preseason singles rankings were junior Chris Mengel at No. 19, sophomore Raphael Hemmeler at No. 76 and junior Fred Saba at No. 111. Mengel wrapped up the 2011-12 season with an overall singles record of 31-13 and was selected to compete in the NCAA Singles Championships. Hemmeler finished his freshman campaign with a 26-11 ledger in singles after spending time at the No. 3 and No. 5 spots in the lineup, while Saba notched a mark of 10-1 in ACC singles play to match a program single-season record.
Rookies Michael Redlicki and Bruno Semenzato came in at the top of the ITA's preseason newcomer/freshman rankings, with Redlicki taking the No. 1 spot and Semenzato right behind him at No. 2.
In addition, Duke also had two doubles pairs earn preseason rankings, as Mengel and Saba were tabbed No. 15 and the duo of Cunha and Hemmeler was listed at No. 16.
"It's nice to have a good showing in the pre-season rankings as they are a direct reflection of the work the team put in this past year," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "But we are starting a brand new season, and I expect this to motivate the guys to work even harder moving forward."
The Blue Devils open their fall 2012 slate Sept. 14-16 at the Duke Fab Four Invitational in Cary, N.C.
The first team rankings of the 2012-13 season will be announced by the ITA on Jan. 3, 2013.