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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Photo by Photo by Paul Burke

Senior Jordi Arconada won both his singles and doubles match.

No. 1 Wake Forest hosted No. 5 Texas A&M in the men’s tennis national semifinals on Monday, taking down the Aggies in front of an animated home crowd. The Demon Deacons took a commanding 3-0 lead to start the day, before the maroon and white fought back to even the match. Ultimately Wake Forest advanced to the NCAA Finals, winning the match by a score of 4-3.
“Tennis is a hidden jewel,” Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said after the match. “A lot of people don’t know how exciting the matches are, on both sides. Everybody lays it out on the line and somebody has to lose. Unfortunately for us, Wake Forest was just a little too good today. I’m really proud of our guys and as far as I’m concerned, college tennis is the winner when we have matches like this.
After the slow start, Texas A&M’s first point of the day came from Valentin Vacherot on court four where he blew past Bar Botzer 6-3, 6-2. It was his 20th dual win of the season and the Frenchman’s third NCAA Tournament win this year. Vacherot’s improved his overall record to 48-16 for the Aggies.
Jordi Arconada fell in his first set 4-6 to Wake Forest’s Skander Mansouri before a rain delay halted the match. When the two came back out, Arconada won the second set 6-2, before going on to win the match with a 7-5 third set victory. The Argentinian has 25 dual wins this season, second-most in school history, and is on a nine-match win streak, going a perfect 4-0 in the NCAA Tournament.
Juan Carlos Aguilar earned Texas A&M’s third point with a 7-6, 6-3 win over Alan Gadjiev. The freshman finished the season going 22-5 in dual matches and a 29-8 overall record.
The semifinal matchup was marred by multiple weather delays due to lightening and wet courts, but Denton thought his players did well dealing with the adversity.
“I think we played pretty much the same from the first to the second delay,” he said. “It reminded of the old Wimbledon days where you’re on and off the court a lot. You have to deal with all the emotions and other factors that have nothing to do with tennis. Ultimately, when you get out there on the court, you have to be able to focus and do your job. Our guys did a great job getting us back in the match.”
Texas A&M had an uncharacteristic performance in the opening doubles portion of the matchup, not winning the doubles point for the first time in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Borna Gajo and Mansouri won 6-0 over No. 3 Arconada and Aguilar thanks to a trio of breaks. Botzer and Petros Chrysochos topped AJ Catanzaniti and Arthur Rinderknech to secure the point for Wake Forest.
The Deacons also earned singles points on court one where No. 7 Gojo beat No. 5 Patrick Kypson, and court two where No. 4 Chrysochos topped No. 12 Rinderknech in the Aggie’s final collegiate match.
“It was a great match,” Rinderknech said. “I really enjoyed being a part of the team this year. I’m proud of what we did. We were really close but came up just short.”
The matchup was decided on court six when Wake Forest senior Christian Seraphim beat Aggie freshman Barnaby Smith 7-6, 4-6, 6-0.
“When you have a fifth-year senior against a freshman, you’re in a difficult spot,” Denton said. “He’s been a great player for Wake Forest for a long time. He’s been in a lot of matches and has a lot of experience. We didn’t win any key points early in the third set. I think we lost that match in the first set. We had chances in the tiebreaker and we had chances before the tiebreaker.”
Despite falling short of the NCAA Finals, this will be a season for the history books. It is only the ninth time that the Aggies have reached 25 wins in a season and the first time that Texas A&M has advanced to the NCAA Semifinals.
“It was a new experience for our guys,” Denton said. “It is the first time in Texas A&M history that we’ve been on this stage and it’s tougher when you’re facing a home crowd. Our guys have been battle-tested this year. I think we had the second toughest schedule in the country. We played a lot of tough matches. We were prepared for it. In fact, we relished in the atmosphere. It’s a lot of fun playing in front of a crowd like that. I think it raised the level of our players. We enjoyed every minute of it.”
Four Aggies still have work to do this postseason at the NCAA Individual Championships. Kypson and Rinderknech both earned national seeds in the singles draw, while Arconada will compete in both the singles and doubles competition. Aguilar will be Arconada’s partner in the doubles draw where they are the No. 3 national seed.

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