Today is the day that we have all been waiting for in Men’s Tennis. The No. 1 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (30-2) will play for its first ever national championship today when it hosts No. 3 Ohio State (34-2) at 5 PM at the Leighton Family Tennis Courts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
The Deacs knocked off No. 5 Texas A&M in a thrilling Final Four matchup that came down to court 6 to decide who would move on. Fortunately for Wake it had the German stud Christian Seraphim to anchor the lineup, throwing up a dominant 6-0 performance in the final set against the Aggies’ Barnaby Smith to send the Deacs on.
Ohio State got revenge on No. 2 UCLA for one of its two regular season losses in a “closer than it looked” 4-1 victory as well.
The title match today is a battle of titans in this year’s iteration of men’s tennis. The two squads have combined for 64 wins overall and 37 straight wins (22 for Ohio State and 15 for Wake Forest).
The Deacs are 17-1 at home, while Ohio State is 8-1 on the road. The two teams have combined to go 27-4 against the top 25 (14-2 for Wake, 13-2 for OSU). In close matches both teams have also done well, as Wake is 6-2 in 1-point decisions, while OSU is 4-0.
If Wake were able to win today it would be just the fifth program in school history to win a team national championship, joining field hockey (3), men’s golf (3), baseball (1), and men’s soccer (1). It would also become just the second team to win a men’s tennis title as a member of the ACC (Virginia has won four, including the last three).
Diving into the lineup for Wake Forest a bit, I would expect to see a very similar roster to yesterday. If anything will change I would expect it to come at Singles No. 5, where Alan Gadjiev could be replaced by either Eduardo Nava or Rrezart Cungu.
My guess is that Christian Seraphim will continue to anchor the bottom of the lineup at No. 6, as that gives Wake a distinct advantage down there.
The path to victory in my eyes is: Doubles points, Court 2 (Chrysochos), Court 4 (Botzer), and Court 6 (Seraphim). Gojo will have his hands full at Court 1 facing off against No. 6 ranked nationally Mikael Torpegaard, and Skander Mansouri probably has a slight advantage at the 3. Since I don’t know what we will do at No. 5 it’s hard to say where we stand there.
Overall I expect this to be a very close, tenaciously fought match, as both teams are excellent across the board.
If you are in the Winston-Salem area then I implore you to get out and support the Deacs today. Wake has not won a team national title in over a decade and it is very rare to do so on your home campus. Attendance should be extremely high, so get out there well before 5 PM if you want to have a guaranteed seat!