Sunday, 20 May 2018 16:19

Men's Final Four Is Set After a Trio of 4-3 Matches While Wake Posts a Shutout

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For the first time since play began on Thursday all matches would start and finish outdoors and the fans in attendance were treated to one good match after another. Pac-12 Champion UCLA defeated its crosstown rival USC for the fourth time this season with the doubles point being the difference. Big Ten Champion Ohio State came back from 2-0 down to defeat SEC Champion Mississippi State 4-3. In the All-SEC quarterfinal it was Texas A&M edging Florida 4-3 and in the match that the locals packed the house for Wake Forest shutout Illinois 4-0.

The semifinal matches, which will be played at the same time, have been moved up from 4 p.m. eastern tomorrow to 2 p.m. eastern since there is a chance of rain later in the day. Wake Forest and Texas A&M, which will be playing for the first time in 10 years, will play on the main stadium courts while UCLA and Ohio State, which played back in February, will play on the back six courts. If you're watching from home the live stream and scoring setup is much better on the back six courts but if you are there in person then the best sight-lines are on the stadium courts. 

Ohio State advanced to the NCAA semifinals for the second year in a row, and fifth time in program history, with a hard fought 4-3 win over Mississippi State. MSU won the doubles point for the 21st time in 26 matches and in the process snapped Ohio State's 19-match doubles winning streak. MSU went up early breaks on all three courts and after winning 6-3 at No. 2 its No. 1 team of Nuno Borges and Strahinja Rakic broke for 5-4 and served out a 6-4 win. 

Ohio State got back in the match in singles by taking four opening sets and they'd end up closing three of those out in straight sets. 

Mississippi State junior Trevor Foshey put the Bulldogs up 2-0 with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Hunter Tubert at No. 6 but Ohio State junior Martin Joyce put the Buckeyes on the board with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Florian Broska at No. 5. 

Ohio State freshman John McNally extended his winning streak to nine and tied the match at 2-2 with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Strahinja Rakic but Mississippi State. 

Mississippi State sophomore Giovanni Oradini put MSU back in front with a 6-4, 6-3 win over JJ Wolf at No. 2 but Ohio State sophomore Kyle Seelig tied it up with a 6-1, 7-6 win over Niclas Braun at No. 4. 

The match came down to a third set at No. 1 between Ohio State senior Mikael Torpegaard and Mississippi State junior Nuno Borges. After Torpegaard held to start the third set, he'd break on the no-ad point with a forehand winner for 2-0. Torpegaard fought off a pair of break points to hold for 3-0 before Borges finally got on the board with a no-ad hold for 3-1. Torpegaard held from 40/30 for 4-1 and then he broke Borges via a double fault for 5-1. Torpegaard closed out the match with an ace on the no-ad point to win it 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.

 

 

Post-Match Quotes

Mississippi State Head Coach Matt Roberts:
Opening Statement:
“I thought we played our best doubles point of the year. We played really clean on all three courts. We had a good start. I was very proud of the way the guys came out loose and aggressive and played a really sharp doubles point. I felt like we did well in singles. I thought if we could extend one of those matches into a third set, it would have helped Nuno (Borges) a lot more. It’s tough when all eyes are on him in that situation.

“(Mikael) Torpegaard’s been in that situation a lot. He expected that and was a little more used to that feeling and that moment than we were. He’s been there multiple times already. That was the difference. I think that if Nic (Braun) could have gone three sets, or one of the other courts next to Nuno could have gone three, it would have taken a lot of pressure off him. Hats off to Ohio State. They made a good comeback after the doubles point and put the match into a position where they were comfortable. We have to live in that moment a little bit more and get used to it and next year, when we’re there, I feel a little bit more confident in our guys.”

“I was very confident in Nuno (Borges) at that point. I just thought he was going to be able to push a little bit more with his intensity and (Mikael) Torpegaard played too solid. They’re a really good team. We’ll learn from it and I’m very proud of our guys and how they handled the whole year. They improved every week. They got better and better and winning doubles against Ohio State after they’ve won 19 in a row proves that we’re getting better as the season goes on.”

“I’m really proud of Giovanni (Oradini) and how he led to today, winning in straight sets. I’m proud of how Nic (Braun) fought back and how Trevor (Foshey) led us with a straight-sets win. I’m very proud of those guys.”

“We’ve just got to continue to pump ourselves up with positive thoughts and keep believing in ourselves and listening to the positive and blocking out the negative. Your thoughts control you and I think we’re proof that we’ve really developed in that area and have a lot of confidence in each other as a team. The guys did a great job of building themselves up this year with the way they practice, trained together
and competed together. I’m very proud of our guys and what we’re building here and we’re looking forward to next year. I’d love to start the fall season right now if I could.”

Ohio State Head Coach Ty Tucker
Mississippi State is the real deal. They came out and I was a little bit disappointed in our guys. For seven minutes we were stuck in concrete looking around. We have been here many times before in the quarterfinals and we thought we would be a little looser. It is the quarterfinals and our guys did look a little like deer in headlights, but we settled in after those seven minutes and got back in to those doubles points. We won one of the doubles matches. We got off to good starts. We were determined and wanted to win. The margins are thin and today was our day and it feels damn good 

#3 Ohio State 4, #7 [6] Mississippi State 3
Head Coaches: Ty Tucker (Ohio State) and Matt Roberts (Mississippi State)
Doubles competition
1. #1 Nuno Borges/Strahinja Rakic (Miss St) def. Martin Joyce/JJ Wolf (Ohio St) 6-4
2. #38 Niclas Braun/Giovanni Oradini (Miss St) def. #61 Mikael Torpegaard/John McNally (Ohio St) 6-3
3. Matt Mendez/Hunter Tubert (Ohio St) def. Florian Broska/Trevor Foshey (Miss St) 6-4
Singles competition
1. #6 Mikael Torpegaard (Ohio St) def. #2 Nuno Borges (Miss St) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1
2. #23 Giovanni Ordini (Miss St) def. #41 JJ Wolf (Ohio St) 6-4, 6-3
3. #92 John McNally (Ohio St) def. #84 Strahinja Rakic (Miss St) 6-4, 6-3
4 #96 Kyle Seelig (Ohio St) def. Niclas Braun (Miss St) 6-1, 7-6
5. #112 Martin Joyce (Ohio St) def. Florian Broska (Miss St) 7-5, 6-1
6. Trevor Foshey (Miss St) def. Hunter Tubert (Ohio St) 6-2, 6-3
Match Notes
Ohio State 33-2; National ranking #3
Mississippi State 23-3; National ranking #7
Doubles: (3,2,1) Singles: (6,5,3,2,4,1)

 

UCLA is back in the NCAA semifinals for the first time in four years after defeating crosstown rival USC 4-3. The Bruins won what turned out to be a pivotal doubles point with 6-4 wins at both No. 1 and No. 2. UCLA added four opening sets in singles and freshman Keegan Smith was the first off the court after extending his winning streak to 18 with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Jack Jaede at No. 3. 

USC only took two opening sets in singles but freshman Daniel Cukierman and sophomore Riley Smith both won in straight sets to tie the match at 2-2.

USC junior Laurens Verboven won his seventh match in a row to give the Trojans their first lead of the day with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-0 win over Logan Staggs at No. 4. However the lead wouldn't last for long as UCLA junior Maxime Cressy won his 10th straight match with a 6-3, 7-6 win at No. 5. 

The match would be over in less than five minutes as UCLA senior Martin Redlicki pulled away from Brandon Holt to clinch with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win at No. 1.

 

Post-Match Quotes

UCLA head coach Billy Martin
Thoughts on the close match…
“It always is against our crosstown rival. Again a 4-3 finish, we’ve had another one of those this season. We know each others game so well. There is no hiding each others weaknesses. I’m just proud of my guys to come out for the fourth time and win. It isn’t easy. You feel like you’ve proved that you are better than them, but you have to do it one more time. We were fortunate enough to do it one more time.”

On resetting for Final Four…
“If that is hard, then something is wrong. This is what you train and think about all year. We will certainly be ready and come out and play well tomorrow.”

UCLA Martin Redlicki, No. 1 singles player
On getting the clinch…
“My thoughts were today what they have been like all season. As hard as it is to do at that stage in the match, I was really just trying to take it one point at a time, talking to my coaches in-between points and stay loose, not thinking about the moment. I was able to execute some big shots down the stretch with a clear mind and just play my game.”

USC Head Coach Peter Smith
On the match:
“They have a few positions that they are very comfortable winning with and that was evident. They have the right people out there in the right spots and they came through. It was a great match between two rivals and they played real tough down the stretch.”

#2 UCLA 4, #10 USC 3
5/20/2018 at Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wake Forest Tennis Complex)
Singles competition
1. #1 Martin Redlicki (UCLA) def. #11 Brandon Holt (USC) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
2. #74 Daniel Cukierman (USC) def. #81 Evan Zhu (UCLA) 6-3, 6-4
3. #56 Keegan Smith (UCLA) def. Jack Jaede (USC) 7-5, 6-3
4. Laurens Verboven (USC) def. #103 Logan Staggs (UCLA) 3-6, 6-1, 6-0
5. Maxime Cressy (UCLA) def. Thibault Forget (USC) 6-3, 7-6 (2)
6. #123 Riley Smith (USC) def. Connor Hance (UCLA) 6-3, 7-5
Doubles competition
1. #29 Martin Redlicki/Evan Zhu (UCLA) def. #10 Brandon Holt/Riley Smith (USC) 6-4
2. #16 Austin Rapp/Keegan Smith (UCLA) def. #9 Jack Jaede/Laurens Verboven (USC) 6-4
3. Maxime Cressy/Bryce Pereira (UCLA) vs. Daniel Cukierman/Tanner Smith (USC) 4-4, unfinished
Match Notes:
USC 20-9; National ranking #10
UCLA 30-2; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (3,2,6,4,5,1)
T-2:15

 

Texas A&M advanced to its first-ever NCAA semifinal after holding off conference rival Florida 4-3. The Aggies won the doubles point for the 20th time in 29 tries after Juan Carlos Aguilar and Jordi Arconada won a top five dual over Alfredo Perez and Johannes Ingildsen 7-5. The Aggie duo broke Ingildsen's serve from 15/40 with an overhead by Aguilar to close it out. 

Each team would pick up three first sets in singles and four of those would finish in straight sets.

Texas A&M freshman Juan Carlos Aguilar put the Aggies in front 2-0 with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Chase Perez-Blanco at No. 5 and senior Jordi Arconada made it 3-0 with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Alfredo Perez at No. 3

Florida junior McClain Kessler put the Gators on the board with a 7-5, 6-2 win over AJ Catanzariti at No. 6 and freshman Oliver Crawford made it 3-2 with a  6-4, 7-6 win over Patrick Kypson at No. 1.

Florida freshman Andy Andrade tied the match at 3-3 after coming back from a set down and a break down in the third set to defeat Valentin Vacherot at No. 4. Vacherot broke Andrade to go in front 4-3 in the third but Andrade would break back from 30/40, hold easily, and then break again from 30/40 to take it 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. 

The match would be decided in a third set at No. 2 between Texas A&M senior Arthur Rinderknech and Florida sophomore Johannes Ingildsen. Rinderknech found himself in trouble when serving at 2-2 (0/40) but he'd hit a service winner, forehand winner, drop shot winner, and then a big forehand forced an Ingildsen miss to get the hold. Ingildsen fell behind 15/40 on his next service game but after getting it back to 40/40 he'd net a backhand to get broken. Rinderknech held on the no-ad point for 5-2 and then he broke on the no-ad point, after Ingildsen short armed a volley, to clinch it.  

 

Post-Match Quotes

Texas A&M Head Coach Steve Denton
On making the semifinals for the first time in program history:
“It’s great. Our guys had to fight their tails off. Hats off to Florida. They put us on the ropes today. They played smart. They played really well and competed hard. We were able to get three points on the board, but sometimes that fourth point is elusive. Great job by Arthur (Rinderknech) of coming back in the second set after being down a break and digging himself out of a hole in the third. As he’s done so many times, it’s great to see him out there competing like that. We couldn’t ask for any better player to be there. To have a senior like Arthur who’s done that many times, it’s awesome.”

On the importance of the doubles point:
“It was huge for us. Our guys worked really hard. Our guys had a lot of tough, close games in the doubles. Our guys were able to make some good returns. I thought they also they made some big first serves a couple times to help us hold serve.”

On Jordi Arconada’s performance:
“That’s a big win for Jordi. Alfredo (Perez) is a really good player. Jordi really stepped up and took the ball early today. He played some really inspiring tennis. It’s great for our seniors. (Juan) Carlos (Aguilar) came through for us. He played great in the doubles at the end. His match at five got us in the lead. Give credit to Florida for battling the whole day. It looked like we were going to win and then it looked like maybe we weren’t. It was looking pretty bleak there, but our guys hung in there and fought and we get to advance. That’s the most important thing.

Arthur Rinderknech (Clinching Player)
“It feels pretty great, obviously. Give credit to the team for putting me in a position to clinch the match. I’m really proud to clinch the first final four for the Aggies.

On having a lot of deuce points:
“In the first set, it felt like all the deuce points were going his way. I was unlucky on some and didn’t play great on some others. The third set was really the opposite. I got a bit lucky on some shots and I went for it a bit more and just played a little better. It gave me some big momentum when I needed it. We were both really tired, so it helped a lot to win those tough games.”

Head Coach Bryan Shelton
On the match:
“It was a great match. Our guys fought until the end and that is who they are. Hats off to Texas A&M. They came out and played very well. They were just a little bit better than us in the doubles. At No. 1 doubles, we had a break three times and each time they came back and played the perfect return game. Give them a lot of credit because that point is huge in a match like this. Our guys showed a lot of heart and a lot of resilience. We just didn’t capitalize on some of the key points and that was the difference. To be down 3-0 and work our way back into this match the way we did, I am just so proud of my guys.”

#5 Texas A&M 4, #13 Florida 3
5/20/2018 at Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wake Forest Tennis Complex)
Doubles competition
1. #3 Juan Carlos Aguilar/Jordi Arconada (Texas A&M) def. #5 Alfredo Perez/Johanes Ingildsen (Florida) 7-5
2. #42 Chase Perez-Blanco/Oliver Crawford (Florida) def. AJ Catanzariti/Arthur Rinderknech (Texas A&M) 6-3
3. Patrick Kypson/Valentin Vacherot (Texas A&M) def. #36 Duarte Vale/McClain Kessler (Florida) 6-2
Singles competition
1. #49 Oliver Crawford (Florida) def. #5 Patrick Kypson (Texas A&M) 6-4, 7-6(2)
2. #12 Arthur Rinderknech (Texas A&M) def. #28 Johanes Ingildsen (Florida) 5-7, 7-5, 6-2
3. #48 Jordi Arconada (Texas A&M) def. #14 Alfredo Perez (Florida) 6-3, 6-4
4. Andy Andrade (Florida) def. #72 Valentin Vacherot (Texas A&M) 2-6, 6-3, 6-4
5. Juan Carlos Aguilar (Texas A&M) def. Chase Perez-Blanco (Florida) 6-2, 6-3
6. McClain Kessler (Florida) def. AJ Catanzariti (Texas A&M) 7-5, 6-2
Match Notes:
Texas A&M 26-5; National ranking #5
Florida 19-10; National ranking #13
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (5,3,6,1,4,2)

 

The top seed Wake Forest moved on to its first-ever NCAA semifinal after knocking off #9 Illinois 4-0. The Deacs took the doubles point for the 24th time in 31 matches with 6-3 wins at both No. 1 and No. 3. The teams split first sets in singles with Illinois claiming them at No. 1, No. 2, and No. 5 while Wake picked up sets at No. 3, No. 4, and No. 6. 

Wake senior Skander Mansouri was the first off the court with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Aron Hiltzik at No. 3. Mansouri broke Hiltzik's 4-5 service game to take the opening set and then in the second set after going up a break he came back from 30/40 down to serve it out with an ace on the deciding point. 

Wake freshman Bar Botzer made it 3-0 after defeating Aleks Kovacevic 6-4, 7-5 at No. 4. Botzer led 5-3 in the second set but Kovacevic held and then broke from 30/40 to even it at 5-5. Botzer broke back at love and then served it out from 40/30 after Kovacevic's backhand chip sailed wide.

Wake senior Christian Seraphim and junior Petros Chrysochos were in a race to see who would get the clinch first. Chrysochos came back from a set down to go in front of Alex Brown 5-2 in the third but Brown held and broke to put it back on serve at 5-4. Meanwhile over No. 6, Seraphim broke Caleb Chakravarthi to go in front 6-4, 6-5. Both guys had match points at the same with Chrysochos up 15/40 on Brown's serve while Seraphim was serving 40/40. Chrysochos lost the next point but Seraphim did not as he hit a forehand winner to close it out.

 

Post-Match Quotes

Wake Forest head coach Tony Bresky
On the win against Illinois who Wake Forest beat in the regular season…
“Like we talked about on Friday, everybody is good at this point. When we played Illinois during the year, they were without their No. 1 guy, which he is one of the best players in the country, so that makes a huge difference. Obviously, we played without Bar (Botzer) and Christian (Seraphim), so that was a big difference for us. We know they are a great team. They got a big win on Friday and we knew it would be a battle. Brad Dancer (Illinois head coach) and Marcos Asse (Illinois associate head coach) do a great job.”

On moving on to next round…
“It is always great. We’ve done a good job on concentrating on each match. We focused on Illinois. We came prepared. We had good practices and scouting reports. I think when you get through, it feels great, and then you quickly realize theres another day, so you cool down a bit, and get excited to play again tomorrow.”

Wake Forest Redshirt Senior Christian Seraphim No. 6 singles, No. 3 doubles
On crowd…
“I’ve been here for four and a half years now so it feels like home to me. The atmosphere is amazing. I don’t know how many people are out here, but there is a lot. It is an amazing atmosphere and great to be a part of.”
On getting the clinch and reset for the next match… “It feels good, definitely. It was a little nervous at the end, but I pulled it out in the deuce point, so I’m very happy about that. Obviously, now we have to recover well. We can’t get too excited. We are in the semis now, and there is more to go, so we just have to recover well, relax, and come back fresh tomorrow.”

Illinois Head Coach Brad Dancer
On the match:
“The sign of our team for last few years is we have a great culture and our guys always battle hard. Wake has a tremendous team and this is a great environment here. They punched us in the teeth in doubles and I was really proud of our guys how we responded in singles. We just weren’t able to capitalize on some of those early advantages we had. Once Wake withstood that storm, the tide turned against us. We couldn’t get it turned back around. We had some opportunities, but Wake was too good today.”

#1 Wake Forest 4, #9 Illinois 0
5/20/2018 at Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wake Forest Tennis Complex)
Doubles competition
1. #21 Gojo/Mansouri (Wake Forest) def. Brown/Chakravarthi (Illinois) 6-3
2. Hiltzik/Kovacevic (Illinois) vs. #35 Chrysochos/Botzer (Wake Forest) 4-3, unf.
3. #46 Seraphim/Dempster (Wake Forest) def. Budic/Vukic (Illinois) 6-3
Singles competition
1. #13 Aleks Vukic (Illinois) vs. #7 Borna Gojo (Wake Forest) 6-2, 4-6, 1-3, unf.
2. #87 Alex Brown (Illinois) vs. #4 Petros Chrysochos (Wake Forest) 6-2, 2-6, 4-5, unf.
3. #38 Skander Mansouri (Wake Forest) def. Aron Hiltzik (Illinois) 6-4, 6-3
4. Bar Botzer (Wake Forest) def. Aleks Kovacevic (Illinois) 6-4, 7-5
5. Zeke Clark (Illinois) vs. Alan Gadijev (Wake Forest) 7-6(4), 3-4, unf.
6. Christian Seraphim (Wake Forest) def. Caleb Chakravarthi (Illinois) 6-4, 7-5
Match Notes:
Wake Forest 29-2; National ranking #1
Illinois 24-8; National ranking #9
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (3,4,6)

 

Men's Semifinals (Monday 2 p.m. ET)

[1] Wake Forest vs. [5] Texas A&M

[2] UCLA vs. [3] Ohio State

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