The dream season is finally complete for the No. 1 ranked Wake Forest Men’s Tennis (31-2) team! The Demon Deacons knocked off the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (34-3) 4-2 in a closely contested battle to claim the program’s first ever national championship in tennis.
This is the ninth NCAA team championship in Wake Forest’s athletic history, and the first since 2007, where the Men’s Soccer team also defeated Ohio State to claim the trophy.
In front of a packed stadium at the Leighton Family Tennis Courts tucked right behind BB&T Field, the Deacs got off to a fantastic start by grabbing the ever-important doubles point.
Petros Chrysochos and Bar Botzer got the initial 1-0 lead in doubles with a 7-5 victory on the No. 2 court, while courts 1 and 3 were engaged in very close sets.
The clinching point came from the court 1 duo of Borna Gojo and Skander Mansouri when it broke Ohio State’s Martin Joyce and JJ Wolf to win it 7-5. The Deacs were also on a doubles clinching point on court 3, up 6-5 in a tie-breaker.
With the doubles point secured the Deacs needed just three singles match victories out of six to claim the national championship.
Ohio State threw a bit of a curveball in the singles lineup, with the premise of effectively conceding the court 4 against Bar Botzer to slide their normal fourth and fifth guys down to the fifth and sixth spots to make sure they got wins there. This put Tim Seibert on court 4 to face off against Botzer. Although it would work well at courts 5 and 6, this would eventually spell doom for the Buckeyes.
Everything started off swimmingly for Wake when Chrysochos, Mansouri, and Botzer all broke Ohio State’s serves to begin the match. Chrysochos and Mansouri had very little trouble at all in their matches, clinching 6-1, 6-3, and 6-2, 6-2 respectively to pull the Deacs within one point of the title.
Botzer got out to a commanding 4-0 lead in the first set, but newly inserted Tim Seiber fought back to force a tight service game that Botzer would eventually win to grab the first set 6-4.
Ohio State battled back though, with No. 6 individual Mikael Torpegaard, Kyle Seelig, and Martin Joyce all taking the first sets at courts 1, 2, and 6.
Seelig and Joyce would do exactly what the Ohio State coaching staff wanted in easily getting two-set victories over Alan Gadjiev and Christian Seraphim at the 5 and 6, which brought the score in the match to 3-2, leaving just court 1 and court 4 unfinished.
While Gojo was fighting back from an early break in the second set against Torpegaard to try to force a third set, all eyes turned to court 4 and Bar Botzer, where he battled back from down 5-2 in the second set to knot it up at 5-5.
The 24 year old Israeli freshman Botzer calmly relied on his maturity and experience to force the serving Seibert into a brutal unforced error on a 40-40 score that led to another break to put the Deacs up 6-5 and in a position to serve for the national championship.
Botzer closed it out easily for the Deacs, setting off a raucous celebration on court 4 in front of a capacity-plus crowd to give Wake the 4-2 victory.
The NCAA Championship completes the season goals for Wake Forest, which were: ITA Indoor Championship, ACC Regular Season Championship, ACC Tournament Chamionship, and the most important, NCAA Championship.
Wake Forest becomes just the second ACC team to win a tennis title while a member of the ACC (Virginia, 2015-17), and just the 15th overall different team winner in the history of the championship. It is also the first team in 11 years to win the title on its home court.
The tennis team continues what has been a hell of a week for Wake Forest student-athletes, winning an NCAA Championship for the second straight day after Jennifer Kupcho won the NCAA Individual Championship in Women’s Golf on Monday.
Monday was also Graduation Day for Christian Seraphim and Skander Mansouri, who received their diplomas from Wake Forest University.
All in all this team will go down as the best tennis team in school history, as well as one of the best in ACC history, along with some of the Virginia teams in the past few years.
The individual tournament begins today with Petros Chrysochos (4), Borna Gojo (7), and Skander Mansouri all competing there. On the doubles side Chrysochos/Botzer snuck into the tournament as the first alternate, and that begins tomorrow! Despite being unseeded that is obviously a duo that could cause some damage in the bracket.
Head coach Tony Bresky has taken this program to the top of the mountain and I cannot wait to see how long the Deacs can stay up there!