The third time wasn’t the charm for the Virginia Cavaliers on Thursday against the Wake Forest Deacons.
The Deacons, the reigning national champions, defeated the Cavaliers 4-2 on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament at USTA National Center in Orlando, Fla., to sweep all three matches between the teams this season.
In the semifinals, Wake Forest will play No. 9 North Carolina (22-6), which defeated No. 1 Ohio State (32-3) 4-2 in another other quarterfinal Thursday. That semifinals match is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday, and the winners of the semifinal matches will play in the NCAA championship at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Wake Forest (33-3) defeated North Carolina 5-2 on March 27 in Winston-Salem.
“Obviously we’re real excited to win our match and make it to the semis,” said Coach Tony Bresky of Wake Forest. “(We have) another ACC battle (on Saturday). You know I think it just goes to show you how good the ACC is. Congrats to Carolina on their win tonight and we’ll look forward to battling them again in the semis.”
Borna Gojo clinched the match for the Deacons with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory against Carl Soderlund in a match featuring the teams’ top singles players.
“I just tried to stick in there as long as I could for my teammates to make it longer, to maybe take the pressure off them because I wasn’t playing as well,” he said. “And I thought he played really well.
“But at the end I turned around and I managed to win somehow.”
Gojo said Soderlund was cramping late in the match.
“You get confidence, but on the other hand it can be tough because he can just hit some balls and not really give you any rhythm,” Gojo said. “But I think today I handled that really well. I just played solid.”
Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest’s No. 2 singles player, was leading Brandon Nakashima 2-1 in the third set at the time Gojo sealed Wake Forest’s spot in the semifinals. Chrysochos won the first set 6-3, but Nakashima came back to win the second 7-6 after the players went to a tiebreak.
Chrysochos led 5-4 and 6-5 in the second set before it went to a tiebreak. Chrysochos was serving for the match at 6-5 in the tiebreak, but Nakashima won the next three points to send it to a third set.
“Those guys are warriors,” Bresky said. “Borna lost the first (set) and Petros won the first. They both ended up going three. Petros had a couple match points there in the second-set breaker and credit Brandon — he played some really good tennis. He played some really good points.”
Bresky credits Gojo’s win to flying down to Orlando on Sunday and beginning preparation.
“We came early, we’re fit, we’re ready,” Bresky said. “And I think he deserved to get the W.”
Wake Forest improved to 11-1 this season after losing the doubles point. The lone loss came against Ohio State in February in Chicago at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship.
At 1-all in doubles, freshmen Siddhant Banthia and Melios Efsthathiou of Wake Forest led 5-4 and served for the match, but Virginia’s Gianni Ross and William Woodall broke back to make it 5-all. Both teams won their next service games to send it to a tiebreak.
In the tiebreak, Ross and Woodall won 7-5 to win the match and gave the Cavaliers (24-5) a 1-0 lead. The Deacons came back at No. 6 singles after Banthia defeated Matthew Lord 6-3, 6-0 to even the match. The Cavaliers regained the lead at No. 4 singles after Ryan Goetz defeated Rrezart Cungu 6-2, 6-3. The Deacons tied it at 2-all after Bar Botzer upended Henrik Wiersholm 6-3, 6-2. And Efstathiou defeated Aswin Lizen 6-3, 6-4 at No. 5 singles to give the Deacons a 3-2 lead.
“It’s amazing to have players to be able to — players who would maybe in some other schools play very high, playing low gives you confidence,” Gojo said. “That’s why I think our freshmen are really playing well from that 4-6 spot (Cungu is a sophomore). They’ve been great throughout the whole year, and I hope they’ll keep being great until the end of this tournament − two more matches to go.”
The first of what Wake Forest hopes is two more matches comes about 48 hours after Thursday’s win against Virginia.
“It’s nice we got the match done early,” Bresky said. “We’ll get a solid practice in (today), work on a few things. Our guys are motivated, they’re ready. They don’t need that much rest and they’ll be ready to battle.”