Men’s Tennis: No. 5 Virginia faces No. 4 Wake Thursday in NCAA Quarterfinals

UVA men’s tennisThe No. 5 Virginia men’s tennis team (24-4) will take on No. 4 Wake Forest (32-3) in the quarterfinals of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship on Thursday, at 12 p.m., at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla.

A live video stream of the match and live stats will be available through links posted on VirginiaSports.com.

This will be the fourth meeting this year between Virginia and Wake Forest. UVA won the first meeting, 5-2, in Charlottesville in February. Wake won a conference match in March, 6-1, and topped the Cavaliers, 4-2, in the final of the ACC Championship in April.

Virginia and Wake Forest have won the last four NCAA men’s tennis championships, with the Cavaliers earning three-straight titles from 2015-17 and the Demon Deacons winning last year’s crown.

The Cavaliers are making their 14th appearance in the NCAA quarterfinals in the last 15 seasons. Virginia has advanced to the semifinals in 10 of the past 12 years and has played in the finals in six of the last eight championships. Virginia has the second-highest winning percentage in the NCAA Championships, with a 66-16 record (.804 winning percentage); only Stanford is higher at 111-25 (.816).

Heading into Thursday’s quarterfinal, UVA has won 12 of its last 13 matches with its only loss since February 17 coming against Wake Forest in the ACC tournament final.

Virginia boasts the 2019 ACC Player of the Year in junior Carl Soderlund (Stockholm, Sweden), ACC Freshman of the Year in Brandon Nakashima (San Diego, Calif.) and the ACC Coach of the Year in second-year head coach Andres Pedroso. Pedroso has helped lead the team to a 14-4 record against ranked teams this year including picking up six wins over top-10 opponents.

Söderlund is ranked No. 3 in the latest Oracle ITA Rankings and earned the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Singles Championship. The first-team All-ACC honoree has compiled a 20-4 record in singles, including a 14-4 record at No. 1 singles. Söderlund is 9-1 in his last 10 completed matches, including picking up a victory over No. 13 Axel Geller in the NCAA Round of 16 match against Stanford.

Nakashima, ranked No. 82 in singles, has an 12-2 record at No. 2 singles this season and a 17-5 overall record, including going 3-0 in the NCAA Championship. Nakashima and senior Henrik Wiersholm (Kirkland, Wash.) are the first alternates for the NCAA Doubles Championship. The tandem is currently ranked No. 33 and have an 18-3 record as a team. They only have one loss since March 11 (falling to No. 28 Blumberg and Boyden of UNC in the semifinals of the ACC Championship), going 12-1 in that span with three abandoned matches.

Wiersholm has three unfinished singles matches in the NCAA Championship this year, but has a career mark of 6-0 in the tournament, including winning four matches as a sophomore during UVA’s 2016 championship run.

Senior Aswin Lizen (Douglas, Isle of Man) is 4-0 in the 2019 postseason, picking up two wins in the ACC Championship, including downing Siddhant Banthia of Wake Forest in straight sets, and picking up wins against South Carolina and Stanford. Lizen went 2-0 in singles in the NCAA Championship last season and comes into the quarterfinals with a 4-0 career record. Wiersholm, an All-ACC Second Team honoree, is 15-4 in singles this season and is currently ranked No. 114.

Wake Forest downed Morgan State (5-0), No. 36 Kentucky (4-1) and No. 21 Oklahoma (4-1) in its regional and super regional to advance to the quarterfinals. The Demon Deacons have won 17-straight matches, with their last loss coming on March 13 when they fell 5-2 at then No. 8 Florida. Three players have reached the 30-win benchmark this season with No. 8 Petros Chrysochos holding a 30-3 record, No. 50 Bar Botzer at 36-6 and Melios Efstathiou at 31-10.

Virginia is 4-0 against Wake Forest in NCAA Championship matches. The last meeting was in the 2011 Charlottesville Regional. The only previous finals-site meeting was a Round of 16 match in 2007.

The winner of the quarterfinal will advance to face either No. 1 Ohio State (32-2) or No. 9 North Carolina (21-6) on Saturday, May 18 at 4 p.m. That match will be broadcast on the Tennis Channel.



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