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Duke bedevils men's tennis

The Virginia men's tennis team split its matches against the ACC's top two teams this weekend by falling to No. 6 Duke yesterday after upsetting No. 16 North Carolina Saturday.

The Cavs (15-8, 5-3) posted their biggest win of the year when they dispatched the Tar Heels, 6-1, but then were overwhelmed Sunday by the defending ACC champion Blue Devils, 6-1.

"I think the problem for our team was that everybody was excited after beating Carolina," junior Brian Vahaly said. "It's not even a letdown because [Duke was] the better team."

Duke (19-5, 8-0 ACC) got off to a quick start, snagging all three doubles matches. In singles competition, the Blue Devils won the first sets in five of the six matches.

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Virginia 6 - North Carolina

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"Duke is a great team and they showed it," Cav coach Dick Stockton said. "They are solid from top to bottom, but our guys fought hard and I'm proud of them."

Vahaly, ranked fifth in the country, accounted for the team's only point when he came back from a one-set deficit to defeat Doug Root 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, in the No. 1 singles match. The last time he played Root, Vahaly also dropped the first set before charging back to win the match.

"I came out sluggish and flat," Vahaly said. "He played very well and I just wasn't ready to go. I scrapped as hard as I could and eventually got it back together and played well in the second and third sets."

The win was Vahaly's 30th of the year, which broke the school record for singles victories in a season, which he had shared previously with Justin Smith, who tallied 29 victories in 1994-95. The win also moved Vahaly to 8-0 in the conference and made him the top candidate for the ACC Player of the Year award.

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    "Huntley and Brian Hunter have given this team such a hatred for Carolina," Vahaly said. "The win was great for our confidence. There was so much energy."

    The No. 1 singles match pitted two players who were undefeated in ACC play coming into the match, but Vahaly disposed of Tripp Phillips, 6-1, 6-3.

    Junior Tommy Croker won a hard-fought three-set match over Tar Heel Marcio Petrone at No. 4. Michael Duquette lost the Cavs' only match to Chad Riley at No. 6.

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