Wake Forest’s Bar Botzer returns to Oklahoma’s Alex Bakshi and Stefano Tsorotiotis during a doubles match on Friday, May 10, 2019 in Winston-Salem.
The Wake Forest men’s tennis team loves playing its matches in the friendly confines of the Wake Forest Tennis Complex.
With the stadium mostly full, with blue skies and a breeze on Friday afternoon, the fourth-seeded Deacons used a dominating performance in singles to race past No. 21 Oklahoma in the Super Regionals of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament.
Wake Forest (32-3) is the defending national champion, which won it all last year while playing all six matches at home. It will play the winner of today’s match in Charlottesville, Va. between No. 12 Stanford against No. 5 Virginia, in Thursday’s quarterfinals in Orlando, Fla.
“It’s great to do it at home,” said Coach Tony Bresky of the Deacons. “I’ve always said I think we have the best fans in the country. It’s an atmosphere. You could see that at the end. Our guys just get so much juice from our crowd, so unfortunately, we have to go away finally. We’re going to have to play at a neutral site.
“Hopefully a lot of our fans will come watch us play down there. I know a lot of them talked about coming so we’re looking forward to that.”
The Sooners (17-11) won the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead, but the Deacons took the first set in five of the six singles matches. They ended up winning or leading in all five of those matches, with No. 1 Borna Gojo serving for match point and No. 3 Bar Botzer tied in the second set 2-all after dropping the first set 7-5 (5).
“I think losing the doubles point, more than last year, I think it takes a lot of pressure off us because we’ve lost the doubles point, I think, against UVa. in the ACC (Tournament) finals,” said senior Petros Chrysochos of the Deacons, who plays No. 2 singles for the Deacons and defeated Gojo in the NCAA singles championship here last year.
“And we came back and we won four singles. It’s very tough for other teams to get at least 50 percent of the singles on the board. And I think that takes the pressure off us because we know even if we lose the doubles point we’re ready to go into singles.”
Wake Forest has lost 11 doubles points this season, going 10-1 in those matches. Its lone loss was 4-2 to Ohio State in February in Chicago at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship.
“We’d love to try to win the doubles point. It hasn’t worked out well for us,” Bresky said. “Oklahoma played really well in doubles, and they jumped on us 1-0. I thought our guys did a great job. They’re kind of used to that. We’ve had that happen to us a few times now, we handled it well and played some really good singles.”
Freshman Siddanth Banthia of the Deacons defeated Jochen Bertsch 6-3, 6-2 at No. 6 singles to even the overall match at 1-all. Chrysochos gave the Deacons a 2-1 lead after he defeated Alex Bakshi 6-4, 6-3. And Rrezart Cungu defeated Ferran Calvo 6-3, 6-3 to give the Deacons a commanding 3-1 lead.
“They’ve got great players,” said Coach Nick Crowell of Oklahoma. “They played good and we had some chances. We didn’t execute on our opportunities. They’ve got a lot of experience. You’ve got to give Wake credit.”
Gojo, at No. 1 singles, and freshman Melios Efstathiou, at No. 5 singles, were running neck and neck to see which player would clinch the match first. Gojo was leading Spencer Papa 7-6 (3), 5-2 and match point, and Efstathiou was leading Mason Beiler 6-4, 5-2.
“Actually, I didn’t know his score in the second set,” Efstathiou said. “I remember he was 4-2 up and then I broke at 4-2, as well, for 5-2 serving. And I went to serve, I didn’t see his score. I was just focusing on my match. I had it in my mind that he was also about to clinch. So I was just focused and playing my game.”
As for Chrysochos, he is part of a senior group that is 69-3 at home the past four years. Friday was his final home match.
“It’s been a wild ride,” he said. “Four years playing at home, it came to an end. Hopefully, we’ll go all the way. But what is important is that we got the win today. We finished the home season with a bang.”
Wake Forest’s Petros Crysochos pumps up his teammates prior to their NCAA Super Regional against Oklahoma on Friday, May 10, 2019 in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Wake Forest’s Petros Crysochos pumps up his teammates prior to their NCAA Super Regional against Oklahoma.
Wake Forest head coach Tony Bresky speaks with Melios Efstathiou and Siddhant Banthia during their doubles match against Oklahoma’s Spencer Papa and Max Stewart.
Wake Forest’s Bar Botzer returns to Oklahoma’s Alex Bakshi and Stefano Tsorotiotis during a doubles match.
Wake Forest’s Petros Chrysochos celebrates during a doubles match against Oklahoma’s Alex Bakshi and Stefano Tsorotiotis.
Wake Forest’s Borna Gojo serves to Oklahoma’s Jake Van Emburgh and Ferran Calvo during a doubles match.
Wake Forest’s Julian Zlobinksy celebrates during a doubles match against Oklahoma’s Jake Van Emburgh and Ferran Calvo.
Wake Forest’s Borna Gojo smiles during a doubles match against Oklahoma’s Jake Van Emburgh and Ferran Calvo.
Wake Forest’s Julian Zlobinksy returns to Oklahoma’s Jake Van Emburgh and Ferran Calvo during a doubles match.
Wake Forest’s Julian Zlobinksy serves to Oklahoma’s Jake Van Emburgh and Ferran Calvo during a doubles match.
Wake Forest’s Borna Gojo serves to Oklahoma’s Spencer Papa.
Wake Forest’s Borna Gojo returns to Oklahoma’s Spencer Papa.