ACC Men’s Tennis: Semis To Offer High Drama

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UVA and UNC set for round three; Wake Forest battles VT

CARY, N.C. (theACC.com) – Nine-time defending champion Virginia will face its season nemesis in the semifinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Tennis Championship on Saturday.

The nationally top-ranked and top-seeded Cavaliers (23-3) will face third-ranked and fourth-seeded North Carolina (25-3) in a much anticipated match at Cary Tennis Park. UNC defeated Virginia twice during the regular season – a 4-2 win in February’s ITA finals that snapped the Cavaliers’ 140-match winning streak against ACC opponents, followed by a 4-3 victory in Chapel Hill on April 1. That loss was the first Virginia had suffered in regular-season conference play in nearly a decade.

Saturday’s other semifinal matchup between second-seeded Wake Forest (27-5) and sixth-seeded Virginia Tech (16-7) is also intriguing. The Hokies pushed the nationally seventh-ranked Deacons hard before dropping a 4-3 decision at Blacksburg on April 1. Virginia Tech has won five of six matches since that loss, and Wake Forest has been one of the nation’s hottest teams over the past two months.

Virginia advanced through the quarterfinal round with a 4-1 win over NC State on Friday, while Wake Forest got past seventh-seeded Notre Dame by a 4-3 score. Virginia Tech claimed a hard-fought 4-3 win over third-seeded Florida State, while North Carolina blanked No. 5 Georgia Tech 4-0.

All of Friday’s matches were moved indoors at area ACC campus sites due to heavy rain in the Triangle area. The tournament is set to return outdoors to Cary Tennis Park on Saturday with both men’s semifinals slated to begin at 2 p.m. Sunday’s championship match is also set for a 2 p.m. start.

The Saturday semifinal match between Virginia and UNC, as well as Sunday’s championship match will be streamed live by ESPN3. Former United States Davis Cup team captain Patrick McEnroe will serve as the lead announcer. McEnroe, who captained the U.S. Davis Cup championship team in 2007, will be joined by Paul Torricelli on second chair. Torricelli spent over two decades as head coach at Northwestern, where his teams twice went unbeaten in Big Ten play. Brian Clark will also be on hand as the sideline reporter for the men’s matches.

A capsule look at Friday’s quarterfinal action:

No. 1 Virginia 4, NC State 1
Playing at Duke’s Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center, the Cavaliers took the first step in their bid for a 10th straight ACC title. Colin Altamirano provided the clinching point for Virginia at No. 2 singles. After dropping the opening set to Thomas Weigel by a 6-1 count, Altamirano fought back with a pair of 6-3, 6-2 wins to deliver the match to the Cavaliers (23-3).

J.C. Aragaone (No. 4) and Luca Corenteli (No. 6) won in straight sets for Virginia. The Cavaliers also captured the doubles point behind wins by the teams of Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Mac Styslinger at No. 2, and Altamirano and Aragone at No. 3.

Nick Horton won in straight sets at No. 3 singles for the Wolfpack (18-14).

No. 2 Wake Forest 4, Notre Dame 3
In a match held at UNC’s Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center, seventh-seeded Notre Dame put up a spirted upset bid before the Demon Deacons turned back the challenge.

With the match tied at 3-3, Notre Dame’s Alex Lawson held a 4-1 edge over Wake’s Romain Bogaerts at No. 4 in the lone remaining singles match. But Bogaerts rallied back to take the tiebreaker by a 7-5 score, and the Deacons (27-5) escaped with their 17th win in their last 19 matches.

In addition to claiming what proved to be an all-important doubles point, the Deacons got straight-set singles wins from Skander Mansouri at No. 1 and Dennis Upensky at No. 6.

The Fighting Irish (15-13), who dropped a 7-0 decision at Wake Forest on March 13, saw Josh Hagar (No. 2) and Eddy Covalschi (No. 3) win in straight sets. Kenneth Sabacinski then took a three-set win over Christian Seraphim – complete with a 7-3 win in the tiebreaker – to set up the dramatic finish.

No. 6 Virginia Tech 4, No. 3 Florida State 3
Friday’s final match of day at Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center was settled by a three-set-plus-tiebreaker marathon on the No. 3 court, where the Hokies’ Amerigo Contini prevailed over Michael Rinaldi 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-2).

Virginia Tech battled back after dropping the doubles point. Joao Monterio downed FSU’s ninth-ranked Benjamin Lock 6-3, 7-6 at No. 1 singles, and Andreas Bjererehus (No. 2) and Eduardo Tessaro (No. 4) also won in straight sets before Contini’s dramatic finale.

Jose Gracia won for Florida State at No. 5, and Terrance Whitehurst was also a winner at No. 6 for the Seminoles (18-8).

No. 4 North Carolina 4, No. 5 Georgia Tech 0
Playing at Duke’s Sheffield Tennis Center, the Tar Heels used straight-set singles wins at the No. 3, 4 and 5 singles spots to blank the Yellow Jackets.

After UNC captured the doubles point, the Tar Heels’ Brett Clark scored a 6-2, 6-2 win over Cole Fiegel at No. 3, followed by Jack Murray’s 6-4, 6-1 win over Nathan Rakitt at No. 5. Robert Kelly clinched the match at No. 4, defeating Daniel Yun 7-5, 6-4.

The win was UNCs second over Georgia Tech in seven days. The Tar Heels defeated the Yellow Jackets by a 4-3 score on April 15 in Chapel Hill.