DURHAM, N.C. -- In the end, the 14th-ranked Vols dug themselves a hole they could not overcome Friday night in their first loss on the tennis courts this season.
Tennessee dropped the doubles point and two straight-set matches before starting to turn the momentum, but ninth-ranked Duke held on for a 4-1 victory at Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.
The Vols (10-1) got their one team point from sophomore Brandon Fickey, who earned his first career top-20 victory by beating 14th-ranked Michael Redlicki 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 on court 3. Fickey has won nine consecutive matches.
Tennessee was behind from the start after losing the doubles point for the first time in 11 matches. After the Vols and Blue Devils split courts 2 and 3, the top-ranked team of Henrique Cunha and Raphael Hemmeler beat Jarryd Chaplin and Mikelis Libietis 8-6.
In singles, Duke jumped out to win six first sets. The Blue Devils build its lead to 3-0 quickly when Jason Tahir beat Edward Jones 6-0, 6-0 on court 5 and Hemmeler beat Collins 6-3, 6-1 on court 4.
At that point, the Vols started rally on the remaining courts. Fickey won his match on court 3 to cut the lead to 3-1.
Sophomores Libietis and Hunter Reese both also forced third sets on courts 1 and 2 against No 11 Cunha and No. 23 Fred Saba. With those matches going the distance, Duke got its clinching point on court 6, where Jason Levine beat Taylor Patrick 7-5, 6-3.
Duke 4, Tennessee 1
1. #11 Henrique Cunha (DU) vs. #9 Mikelis Libietis (TENN) 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 1-0, unfinished
2. #23 Fred Saba (DU) vs. #40 Hunter Reese (TENN) 6-3, 4-6, 3-3, unfinished
3. Brandon Fickey (TENN) def. #14 Michael Redlicki (DU) 1-6, 6-1, 6-3
4. #38 Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. John Collins (TENN) 6-3, 6-1
5. #123 Jason Tahir (DU) def. Edward Jones (TENN) 6-0, 6-0
6. Josh Levine (DU) def. Taylor Patrick (TENN) 7-5, 6-3
1. #1 Henrique Cunha/Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. #26 Jarryd Chaplin/Mikelis Libietis (TENN) 8-6
2. #39 Michael Redlicki/Jason Tahir (DU) def. Edward Jones/John Collins (TENN) 8-2
3. Brandon Fickey/Hunter Reese (TENN) def. Fred Saba/Bruno Semenzato (DU) 8-3
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (5,4,3,6)