FORT WORTH, Texas – Despite winning the doubles point and claiming the top two singles slots, the TCU men’s tennis team dropped a heartbreaking thriller against No. 38 Duke, 4-3. The Horned Frogs fall to 5-8 for the year, snapping a three-match winning streak.
“I thought we battled hard,” TCU head coach Dave Borelli said. “Without two starters, I thought we fought hard. I’m just waiting for someone to step up outside of a certain group of guys. They play hard and are competing hard, but we have to get over the hump. It can’t always be the same couple of guys stepping up every time.”
TCU took its first lead of the match with a solid performance in double action. Jack Seider and Zach Nichols picked up a win from the No. 3 slot, dominating Duke’s duo of Torsten Wietoska and David Holland by the score of 8-2.
After Duke claimed the No. 2 position, TCU’s 26th-ranked tandem of freshman Slah Mbarek and senior Kriegler Brink knew they had to win in order for the Frogs to garner the doubles tally. The Purple and White pairing jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the match, but followed by letting the next three games slip away.
After battling to a 4-4 tie, the Blue Devils’ team of Kiril Dimitrov and Alain Michel took a 6-4 lead, pushing the Frogs into a tight corner. With the pressure mounting, Mbarek and Brink pushed though to take four of the final five games to give TCU a 1-0 advantage, winning the match, 9-7.
After slipping in the No. 6 position to begin singles action, Brink gave the Frogs’ a 2-1 advantage after topping Dimitrov by the score of 6-4, 6-1. The straight-set victory marks the fourth straight for Brink, who is ranked 80th in singles by the ITA.
Duke would rally back, taking a 3-2 lead after picking up wins from the Nos. 4 and 5 positions. Sophomore Adrian Simon dropped his match, 6-3, 6-4, while Casey Powers stumbled in straight-sets, 7-6 (3), 6-3.
The last two matches went into third sets. Nichols fell behind in is opening set (3-6) from the No. 3 slot, but bounced back in an impressive second frame, winning the tiebreaker, 7-6 (4). However, the Blue Devils’ Dylan Arnould was too tough in the end, garnering the third set, 6-4, and clinching the match for Duke.
Mbarek ended the evening with his second-consecutive win from the top position, upsetting No. 25 Reid Carleton, 6-4, 6-7 (9), 6-0. The 93rd-ranked TCU freshman moves to 8-4 for the season.
TCU will get a couple of days to recharge after playing three matches in the last four days, hosting Virginia Tech at 2 p.m. Friday at the Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center.
#38 Duke 4, #43 TCU 3
1. #93 Slah Mbarek (TCU) def. #25 Reid Carleton (DUKE) 6-4, 6-7 (9), 6-0
2. #80 Kriegler Brink (TCU) def. #53 Kiril Dimitrov (DUKE) 6-4, 6-1
3. Dylan Arnould (DUKE) def. Zach Nichols (TCU) 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-4
4. Jared Pinsky (DUKE) def. Adrian Simon (TCU) 6-3, 6-4
5. Torsten Wietoska (DUKE) def. Casey Powers (TCU) 7-6 (3), 6-3
6. Alain Michel (DUKE) def. Jack Seider (TCU) 6-3, 6-4
Order of Finish: 6, 2, 4, 5, 3, 1
1. #26 Brink/Mbarek (TCU) def. Dimitrov/Michel (DUKE) 9-7
2. Carleton/Arnould (DUKE) def. Simon/Powers (TCU) 8-3
3. Seider/Nichols (TCU) def. Wietoska/Holland (DUKE) 8-2
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1