ACC Men’s Tennis: Deacons End UVA’s Run

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Wake Forest edges Cavaliers for first conference title

CARY, N.C. (theACC.com) – For the first time in a decade, the Atlantic Coast Conference has a new men’s tennis champion.

For the first time in the league’s 63-year history, the trophy belongs to Wake Forest.

The Demon Deacons turned back nine-time defending champion Virginia on Sunday afternoon, claiming a 4-3 win on a third-set tiebreaker in an epic 2016 ACC Men’s Tennis Championship final at Cary Tennis Park.

“It doesn’t get any better than this in college tennis,” said Wake Forest fifth-year head coach Tony Bresky. “I’ve been in this a long time, and I’m not sure I’ve been in a more exciting match. I am really happy for our seniors. They were my first recruiting class here, and they totally bought in to what we are trying to accomplish. This is really special for them.”

And quite a moment for Bresky, a former assistant under veteran Virginia coach Brian Boland, who stuck around for Sunday’s post-match ceremony with his team to applaud the Demon Deacons and congratulate each Wake player and staff member.

“I was on the court here 10 years ago the last time Virginia lost (to Duke) in the same situation … deciding match on Court 6,” Bresky said. “This does make it special, having coached at Virginia, and to get this win for Wake Forest. We hadn’t beaten Virginia since I’ve been here, and it has probably been 15 year since the last Wake beat Virginia … So just a tremendous win all the way around.”

With the match knotted at 3-3, it all came down to No. 6 singles, where Wake freshman Dennis Uspensky and Virginia junior Luca Corinteli had already split two 7-6 tiebreaker matches.

Incredibly, the pair battled to another 6-6 draw. But the final tiebreaker belonged to Uspensky, who pulled away by a 7-4 score to seal the match for Wake.

“Towards the end, I really didn’t believe what I did, to be honest with you,” said Uspensky, an Atlantic Beach, New York, native who was named the tournament MVP. “Both of us were just playing out of our minds. I just tried to block out the crowd, focus on what I have been coached and not be distracted. I am very proud to be the one to help bring Wake Forest its first ACC championship.”

Wake Forest (29-5) grabbed the early lead by claiming the doubles point, with Romain Bogaerts and Uspensky’s 6-4 win over Collin Altamirano and J.C. Aragone on Court 3 providing the clincher. Bogaerts and Uspensky’s victory followed wins by the Demon Deacons’ Skander Mansouri and Christian Seraphim at No. 1, and the Cavaliers’ Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Mac Styslinger at No. 2.

The match then appeared as if it might play out similar to Friday’s semifinal, where the top-seeded and defending NCAA champion Cavaliers battled back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat fourth-seeded North Carolina. After Mansouri defeated Ryan Shane 6-0, 6-3 at No. 1 singles to give Wake a 2-0 lead, Virginia (24-4) rallied to go up 3-2 before Seraphim’s three-set win at No. 5 pulled the Demon Deacons even and set up Uspensky’s final heroics.

“Being a freshman in that situation probably isn’t the best thing, but I just tried to stay calm,” Uspensky said. “I knew I had the shots to win it.”

Despite rain that interrupted play on both Friday and Saturday, this year’s ACC Tennis Championships drew a record total attendance of 1,704.