The Cavaliers won on five of the six singles courts to topple the top-ranked Demon Deacons.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The No. 13 Virginia men’s tennis team (6-1, 1-1 ACC) defeated No. 1 Wake Forest (6-1, 0-0 ACC) by a 5-2 score on Friday (February 8) at the Boar’s Head Sports Club.
Wake Forest won the doubles point, but the Cavaliers won five of six singles matches to defeat the 2018 NCAA Champions. Senior Aswin Lizen (Douglas, Isle of Man) clinched the victory with his win on court six.
“I am just proud of my guys for showing up to work every day,” said head coach Andres Pedroso. “These guys put in a full effort. We talked about it yesterday, how special it is, the culture that we have, how everyone is working hard and just trying to find a way to get better. Wins like this are going to happen if you put in the work and you have the talent that we have. I think today shows the guys that we can put ourselves in a position to win against anyone. And it is going to be a dogfight against anyone in the country. We have to walk out there with some confidence and understand that there are going to be ups and downs during matches. The most important thing is that we just work hard every day in practice and get our schoolwork done. We need to just live quality lives and if we do that, we are going to maximize and be in positions to win.”
The Demon Deacons took a 1-0 lead after edging the Cavaliers 6-4 on both the first and third doubles courts.
In singles, freshman Ryan Goetz (Greenlawn, N.Y.) blazed through his match at No. 5 singles, downing No. 88 Rrezart Cungu, 6-0, 6-2, before two other courts had even finished their first sets.
Two of the first sets were decided in tiebreakers with Wake Forest’s Petros Chrysochos, the top-ranked singles player in the country, edging senior Henrik Wiersholm, 7-4, while sophomore Gianni Ross (Chicago, Ill.) won his first set tiebreaker on court four, 7-4.
Freshman Brandon Nakashima (San Diego, Calif.) gave UVA a 2-1 lead with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 21 Bar Botzer. Ross followed with a 6-2 win in his second set over No. 49 Melios Efstathiou to put UVA ahead, 3-1. Chrysochos won his second set, 6-3, over Wiersholm to make it 3-2.
On court one, junior Carl Soderlund (Stockholm, Sweden) dropped his first set, 6-4, to Bona Gojo. The two fought to a 6-6 tie in the second set, but Söderlund battled for a 7-3 victory in the tiebreaker to force the third set.
At the same time, Lizen and Julian Zlobinsky traded 6-4 victories on court six in the first and second sets to force a third set. Lizen picked up a break and was serving for the match up 5-3, but double-faulted to get the match back on serve, 5-4.
Söderlund rode the momentum of his tiebreaker victory into the third set, jumping out to a 5-1 lead. He was serving for the match as Lizen hit a winner to break Zlobinsky and clinch the victory. Two points later, Söderlund finished off Gojo, 6-1, to make it a 5-2 victory for the Cavaliers.
“I had to completely reset mentally after the double-fault and come back really competitive,” Lizen said. “You have to be ready for the ups and downs. When I saw the ball go past him, I almost threw my racquet out of pure excitement. That is my first clinch in such a big match. It was amazing to have my teammates come out and celebrate it with me. I am so proud of what all the guys did today. To top the No. 1 team in the country at home in front of an amazing crowd, it does not get better than this in a regular-season win. After last year, to be able to compete with this team that hard, be so close and actually win it, just shows what we are capable of this season.”
Virginia and Wake Forest have combined to win the last four NCAA team titles (Virginia 2015-17, Wake Forest 2018) and the last two ITA National Team Indoor championships (UVA 2017, Wake 2018).
Despite both teams being members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, this is a non-conference contest. The two will meet again on Sunday, March 17 in Winston-Salem for their ACC match.
The Cavaliers close out the weekend by traveling to play at Boston College (3-1, 0-0 ACC) on Sunday, February 10, at 12 p.m.