Feb. 19, 2017
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – In the most thrilling match of the season to date, No. 3 Ohio State rallied for a 4-3 victory over No. 2 Wake Forest in the semifinals of the ITA National Indoor Team Championships on Sunday.
Fittingly, with the score tied 3-3, the match was decided in third-set tie-breaker between the teams’ two best players in No. 1 Petros Chrysochos for Wake Forest and No. 2 Mikael Torpegaard for Ohio State. Torpegaard went up 3-1 in the breaker before Chrysochos evened the score at 3-3. That’s when the Buckeye turned it on and won four of the next five pressure-packed points to take the tie-breaker 7-4 and push the Buckeyes into the finals.
“Man, it was a war today,” said Ohio State Director of Tennis Ty Tucker. “Two very good teams going at and we lost the doubles point in a tie-breaker and were hoping we wouldn’t end up losing the match in a tie-breaker. And what can you say about Torpegaard today. The No. 1 and No. 2 players in the country battling for an entire set on the last court for a berth in the finals. We obviously wanted the ball in Torp’s hands because he’s been there before and he came through today.”
— FloTennis (@FloTennis_) February 19, 2017
The Buckeyes will play the winner of the match between North Carolina and host Virginia in the finals on Monday morning beginning at 11 a.m.
The doubles point was a foreshadowing of what was to come. Martin Joyce and Hugo Di Feo continued their strong play with a 6-2 win over Borna Gojo and Alan Gadjlev on court two. Torpegaard and Herkko Pollanen then dropped the match on court one to Skander Mansouri and Christian Seraphim 6-3 leaving the point in the hands of Matt Mendez and Hunter Tubert on court three.
Two different times late in the set, Tubert and Mendez were serving and were trailing love-40 before rallying to hold serve. The second of which came at 6-6 and would force a tie-breaker to decide the winner. The Buckeye duo fell behind 3-0 to Chrysochos and Dennis Uspensky but would again comeback to get on serve at 5-4. The teams split the points on Tubert’s serve and the Deacs would win the next point to take the tie-breaker 7-5.
Singles play got started with the Buckeyes taking four of the six first sets to gain some momentum. Freshman JJ Wolf won 6-3 in the first over Gojo and would go on to post the first Buckeye point with a 6-3 win in the second. The win was his fourth of the season.
Di Feo followed shortly after with a solid 6-4, 6-3 win over No. 10 Mansouri to put the Buckeyes in front 2-1. This was his second win over a top-10 ranked opponent this season.
“Hugo Di Feo was the MVP of the day,” said Tucker. “He was tremendous in doubles and was unbelievable in singles. Certainly a lot of credit goes to Torpegaard but Hugo got the game ball today.”
Redshirt-freshman Kyle Seelig would increase the lead to 3-1 as he took the first set 6-4 from Gadjlev and got a break at 4-4 in the second. He would then hold serve at love to also win the second set 6-4.
Wake Forest would cut the lead to 3-2 as Uspensky topped Joyce in straight sets 7-6, 6-4 on court five.
On court four, Pollanen lost the first set to Seraphim 6-3 but he turned the tables and won the second 6-3. In the third, Seraphim raced to a 3-0 lead and Pollanen was never able to recover fully and would fall 6-3. That evened the score at 3-3 and put the attention squarely on court one.
The showcase match started like everyone expected as the two players traded holds all the way into a first-set tiebreak. Chrysochos looked in control of the breaker as he led 6-1 but Torpegaard caught fire and would win six-straight points to take a 7-7 lead. After a Chrysochos hold, the Denmark native won two straight to win the tie-break 9-7.
In the second, Chrysochos went up an early break but Torpegaard was able to break back and get on serve at 3-3. After trading breaks, both players traded holds and the score was 5-5 when Chrysochos grabbed another break to lead 6-5. The Deacon would hold at love to win the second set 7-5.
The third set started much the same way as the second. Torpegaard dropped the first three games before getting a break back at 3-1. He would then hold on his next two service games before getting even once again at 4-4 with another break. In his next service game, he went up 30-0, fell behind 30-40 but would end up holding. Chrysochos held as well on some close calls and they were even at 5-5.
Torpegaard was then broken to fall behind 6-5 but showed his medal with his back to the wall and broke back to force the deciding tie-breaker that he would eventually end up winning.
The Buckeyes are in search of just their second ITA Indoor title as they also won the crown in 2014 in Houston. Pollanen and Mendez are the only two members of the current team that was on the team three years ago. Pollanen went 2-1 with an unfinished match at No. 3 singles in that championship.
#3 Ohio State 4, #2 Wake Forest 3
1. #2 Mikael Torpegaard (OSU) def. #1 Petros Chrysochos (WF) 7-6 (8-6), 5-7, 7-6 (7-4)
2. #8 Hugo Di Feo (OSU) def. #10 Skander Mansouri (WF) 6-4, 6-3
3. JJ Wolf (OSU) def. Borna Gojo (WF) 6-3, 6-3
4. #26 Christian Seraphim (WF) def. #47 Herkko Pollanen (OSU) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
5. Dennis Uspensky (WF) def. #77 Martin Joyce (OSU) 7-6 (7-1), 6-4
6. Kyle Seelig (OSU) def. Alan Gadjiev (WF) 6-4, 6-4
1. #1 Skander Mansouri/Christian Seraphim (WF) def. #38 Mikael Torpegaard/Herkko Pollanen (OSU) 6-3
2. #25 Martin Joyce/Hugo Di Feo (OSU) def. Borna Gojo/Alan Gadjiev (WF) 6-2
3. Petros Chrysochos/Dennis Uspensky (WF) def. Matt Mendez/Hunter Tubert (OSU) 7-6 (7-5)
Ohio State 13-0; National ranking #3
Wake Forest 8-1; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (3,2,6,5,4,1)
ITA National Team Indoors Semifinals