The No. 5 Virginia men’s tennis team will face a familiar foe on Thursday in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals in Orlando. The Cavaliers (24-4) will face ACC rival Wake Forest (32-3) at noon at the USTA National Campus with a spot in the NCAA semifinals at stake.
It will be the fourth meeting this season between the programs, who have combined to win the past four NCAA national championships. Virginia won three straight titles from 2015-17, while Wake Forest won the championship last season.
The Cavaliers won the first meeting, 5-2, in Charlottesville in February. The Demon Deacons won the conference match between the programs in March, 6-1, and topped the Wahoos, 4-2, in the final of the ACC Tournament in April.
“Both teams know each other really well,” said, Virginia coach Andres Pedroso, who was recently named ACC Coach of the Year. “We scheduled a home-and-away [match] with Wake on purpose, and I think they did the same thing. They wanted to play against one of the best teams more often and it just so happens we are going to play them for the fourth time. They are a great team, very competitive. I was telling someone the other day that I feel like every match is even and everyone has a shot to win.
“It should be a war and we will be ready.”
UVa enters Thursday’s quarterfinal having won 12 of its past 13 matches, with its only loss since February 17 coming against Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament final. The Wahoos defeated St. John’s, 4-2, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, then defeated South Carolina (4-1) and Stanford (4-2) to reach Orlando.
Virginia is led by 2019 ACC Player of the Year Carl Soderlund. The junior from Stockholm, Sweden is ranked No. 3 in the latest Oracle ITA Rankings and will be the No. 3 seed in the upcoming NCAA Singles Championship. Soderlund has a 20-4 record in singles this season, including a 14-4 mark at No. 1 singles. Söderlund is 9-1 in his last 10 completed matches, including a victory over No. 13 Axel Geller in the NCAA Round of 16 match against Stanford.
“Through the entire lineup, you are going to see a total war,” Soderlund said of Thursday’s matchup. “The players are hungry to win, so I am excited to battle next to my brothers.”
One of those brothers is ACC Freshman of the Year Brandon Nakashima, who is ranked No. 82 in singles and has a 12-2 record at No. 2 singles this season and a 17-5 overall record. Nakashima is 3-0 in NCAA Tournament matches.
They will face a Wake Forest team that has won 17 straight matches. The Demon Deacons have defeated Morgan State (5-0), Kentucky (4-1) and No. 21 Oklahoma (4-1) en route to the quarterfinals. Three players have reached the 30-win benchmark for Wake Forest this season: No. 8 Petros Chrysochos (30-3), Bar Botzer (36-6) and Melios Efstathiou (31-10).
The winner of Thursday’s match will advance to face either No. 1 Ohio State (32-2) or No. 9 North Carolina (21-6) on Saturday at 4 p.m. in a semifinal match that will be broadcast on the Tennis Channel.