WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The top-seeded Wake Forest men’s tennis team battled its way to a 4-2 victory over Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship Saturday evening at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex.
For the third consecutive season, the Demon Deacons (29-2) will advance to the NCAA Round of 16. The remaining four rounds of the tournament will be held in Athens, Georgia, on the campus of the University of Georgia.
Skander Mansouri rebounded from an early deficit to clinch the match for the Demon Deacons, and has now clinched both matches in the tournament thus far. Mansouri’s result came the conclusion of a day where the Deacs were tested by the Wildcats (15-13), the No. 2 seed in the Winston-Salem Regional.
Wake Forest began the match with another doubles victory, claiming matches at the No. 1 and 3 positions. Petros Chrysochos and Dennis Uspensky cruised to a 6-2 victory in the third slot before the tandem of Mansouri and Christian Seraphim matched the 6-2 score on the top court to clinch the doubles point. Of Wake Forests’ 31 matches this year, the Deacs have now won the doubles point in 27 of them.
In singles, things were even out of the gate, as both teams won three first sets. Borna Gojo pushed the Demon Deacon lead to 2-0 with a 6-2, 6-0 victory in the No. 2 position. Kentucky would answer, however, and even the score at 2-all with straight sets victories at the No. 1 and 6 positions.
With three matches remaining, and the Deacs needing a pair of points, Seraphim was the first to deliver. After taking the first set of his No. 4 singles match, 6-3, the redshirt junior was pushed to a tiebreaker in the second set. Ultimately, Seraphim would prevail 7-4 in the tiebreaker, putting the Demon Deacons within a point of victory.
The final two matches featured Mansouri, playing No. 3 singles, and Uspensky, playing No. 5 singles, competing on courts next to one another. Mansouri rebounded from a 6-4 defeat in the first set to take the second, 6-3, and force a decisive third set. IN the end, Mansouri closed out the third set, 6-2, sending the Demon Deacons to the Round of 16.
Uspensky was up a set, and leading 5-1 in the second set of his match, when his Wildcat opponent came all the way back to even the score at 5-5. Uspensky was up 6-5 in the match when Mansouri clinched the match for the Deacs.
Wake Forest will await the winner of Michigan and No. 16-seeded Stanford in the Round of 16. First serve in Athens is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 18.
1. #17 Will Bushamuka (UK) def. #5 Petros Chrysochos (WF), 6-4, 6-4
2. #45 Borna Gojo (WF) def. #66 Ryotaro Matsumura (UK), 6-2, 6-0
3. #13 Skander Mansouri (WF) def. Beck Pennington (UK), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
4. #84 Christian Seraphim (WF) def. Nils Ellefsen (UK), 6-3, 7-6 (7-4)
5. Dennis Uspensky (WF). #106 Trey Yates (UK), 6-4, 6-5, unfinished
6. Enzo Wallart (UK) def. Alan Gadjiev (WF), 6-4, 6-3
Order of Finish: 2,6,1,4,3
1. #4 Mansouri/ Seraphim (WF) def. #33 Wallart/Pennington (UK), 6-2
2. Gojo/Gadjiev (WF) vs. Will Bushamuka/Ellefsen (UK), 3-5, unfinished
3. Chrysochos/Uspensky (WF) def. Yates/Benson (UK), 6-2