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    No. 28 Men's Tennis Hosts No. 6 Duke
     
    Undefeated Robbie
    Undefeated Robbie
     

    March 15, 2012

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    RALEIGH, N.C. – The last time the NC State men’s tennis team faced a top 10 opponent, head coach Jon Choboy put a young, inexperienced team on the courts.

    It was an indoor match played on the road in Lexington, Ky., during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend on Jan. 27. The Wolfpack, then ranked No. 57 in the nation, lost 4-0 to No. 7 Kentucky in a match that was more closely contested than the score might indicate.

    On Friday, the No. 28 Wolfpack (14-2) hosts No. 6 Duke (11-2) in its first Atlantic Coast Conference match of the season. The contest is slated to begin at 4 p.m. and will be played on the new Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Outdoor Tennis Arena, weather permitting. As part of Greek Night festivities, free pizza will be available while supplies last.

    “I think they are two completely different situations, just because we are a more experienced and improved team now,” Choboy said. “We have grown a lot as a team.

    “I think this will be a good, competitive match.”

    Duke (11-2) brings two nationally ranked players in its lineup, No. 3 junior Henrique Cunha and No. 18 sophomore Chris Mengel. The Blue Devils are coming off two matches against top 10 opponents, losing to No. 15 Pepperdine and beating No. 8 California last weekend in Durham.

    The Wolfpack, which owns a 5-2 record against ranked opponents this season, is led by No. 66 Jaime Pulgar (12-1), who has won eight consecutive matches, and freshman Robbie Mudge (14-0), who has yet to lose during his inaugural spring season.

    Choboy has used a number of different combinations from his deep and talented roster of 13 players. In recent matches, he has relied on a trio of seniors and a trio of freshmen in his singles lineup.

    Veterans Pulgar, Dominic Hodgson and Julian Sullivan have a combined 28-7 record, with Pulgar playing primarily at No. 1, Hodgson playing at No. 2 and Sullivan switching between Nos. 4 and 5.

    Newcomers Mudge, Austin Powell and Beck Bond are a combined 30-3 on the season. Powell lost his first match of the season last weekend against Campbell’s Fernando Guillen, in his second match playing in the No. 2 spot in the lineup.

    “I think that’s what makes a team successful, when they are good throughout the lineup,” Choboy said. “That’s been one of our strong points this season and it’s always one of Duke strong points.

    “You’ve got to be able to compete at each position and be competitive in doubles.”

    In doubles, Sullivan and sophomore Sean Weber are 11-5 together playing at No. 1, while Hodgson and sophomore Matt Thomson are 8-4 together at No. 2 and Pulgar and Mudge are 8-1 together at No. 3.

    The Wolfpack has won 13 consecutive home matches dating back to last season. Ten of those victories were on the Andy Andrews Indoor Courts, where Friday’s match will be place in the event of rain. One last season was at Pullen Park, where the Wolfpack played while the new outdoor courts were being built. The final two were last weekend in the first matches played by the men’s team at the new $3 million stadium.

    Friday afternoon will certainly be busy for Wolfpack fans on Friday, with the men’s basketball team playing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament prior to the tennis match and the Wolfpack baseball team hosting Wake Forest at 6:30 p.m. at Doak Field at Dail Park.

    The Wolfpack continues its ACC opening weekend by traveling to Chapel Hill, N.C., on Sunday to face No. 32 North Carolina (4-4 overall, 1-0 ACC) in a 1 p.m. match.

     


     

     

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