Tigers Suffer 4-3 Loss to #34 NC State Friday

Tigers Suffer 4-3 Loss to #34 NC State Friday

CLEMSON, S.C. – The Clemson men’s tennis team dropped a 4-3 heartbreaker to NC State, ranked 34th nationally, on Friday afternoon at the Hoke Sloan Tennis Center. Junior Luke Johnson upset his 85th-ranked singles opponent, and senior Hunter Harrington and freshman Hampton Drake pulled out gutsy three-set wins, but the Tigers could not clinch the victory. With the loss, Clemson fell to 10-12 (1-7 ACC), while the Wolfpack improved to 12-8 (2-5 ACC).

“Give credit to a good NC State team,” said Head Coach Chuck McCuen after the match. “This was a hard-fought match against a team of good sports and a highly-respected coaching staff.

“We’re making progress,” McCuen added. “Two matches ago, against Duke, we forced three-set matches on three singles courts. Against Louisville, we had four, today, we played five. A tiebreak decided the doubles point. We are keeping matches closer, and making progress as far as competing. It doesn’t matter where we put anyone in the lineup, we’re going to compete.”

The Tigers lost at number one doubles, before sophomore Robert Dudley and junior Luke Johnson claimed an 8-5 win on Court 2. The pair improved to 5-2 on the season with the win. The doubles point came down to Hampton Drake and Christian Harris. The freshman-sophomore duo played a close match against NC State’s Dempster and Weigel, but ultimately fell in a 7-4 tiebreak, giving the Wolfpack the doubles point.

Senior Alejandro Augusto, playing at No. 1 for the third-straight match, forced a first set tiebreak against #60 Robbie Mudge, but fell 7-6(3), 6-1. Johnson continued his winning ways, defeating 85th-ranked Austin Powell at No. 3, 7-5, 6-2. The win was the first over a ranked player for Johnson this season, and was his eighth out of the last nine matches. He is now 13-7 in dual matches and 6-2 in ACC play. Drake and Harrington followed with three-set victories on Court 5 (6-3, 2-6, 6-3) and Court 2 (6-3, 3-6, 6-4), respectively, to give Clemson the 3-2 advantage in the team score. Daffra Sanon, playing at No. 4, was edged by Beck Bond in three sets, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5. Bond has been the Wolfpack’s hottest player of late, improving to 6-1 in ACC play. Dudley won his first set (6-3) over Thomas Weigel at No. 6, but fell (7-5, 6-1) in the next two, and NC State claimed the 4-3 win.

“The guys are definitely all in. We’re inching our way closer to what we’re trying to achieve. This team will not go away and will continue to learn,” said McCuen. “We’re going to come out and have a good practice tomorrow and get ready for another great opportunity and challenge on Sunday.”

Clemson returns to action on Sunday, April 5 when it hosts 12th-ranked Wake Forest. First serve for the match is at 1 p.m. at the Hoke Sloan Tennis Center.

Here’s Luke Johnson’s winning point vs. NC State’s #85 Austin Powell at No. 3 singles! #TigerPride

A video posted by Clemson Men’s Tennis (@clemsonmtennis) on Apr 3, 2015 at 11:17am PDT

Here was Hunter Harrington’s winning point on Court 2! #TigerPride

A video posted by Clemson Men’s Tennis (@clemsonmtennis) on Apr 3, 2015 at 11:50am PDT