The No. 5 Texas A&M men’s tennis team came within a point of reaching the NCAA Finals as they stormed back from a 3-0 deficit against No. 1 Wake Forest Monday afternoon before falling 4-3 at the Wake Forest Tennis Center.
The Aggies (26-6) weathered a couple delays and a raucous home crowd to push the Demon Deacons (30-2) to the limit. The Maroon & White claimed wins on courts three, four and five after more than three hours of delays due to lightning and wet courts.
Facing elimination, sophomore Valentin Vacherot put on a show demolishing the 24-year old freshman Bar Botzer on court four. Vacherot, ranked No. 72, won 6-3, 6-2 to pick up his 20th dual win this year to become the fourth Aggie to reach that milestone this season. The Frenchman picked up his third NCAA Tournament win this year and improved to 48-16 overall in the Maroon & White.
No. 48 Jordi Arconada put the second point on the board for the Aggies, ambushing No. 38 Skander Mansouri 6-2 in the second set after the first delay and winning 7-5 in the third set. Mansouri picked up an early break and held on for a 6-4 first set victory. Arconada completed one of the most impressive dual seasons in program history on a nine-match win streak. The Buenos Aires native claimed 25 dual wins this year, the second most in a single season in program history, and 67 career wins, the 10th most by an Aggie all-time. Arconada was a perfect 4-0 in the NCAA Tournament including a 3-0 mark against ranked foes.
Freshman Juan Carlos Aguilar evened the match at three-all with an impressive 7-6(6), 6-3 win on court five over Alan Gadjiev. Aguilar finished the season 22-5 in dual matches and 29-8 overall. The 22 dual wins matched a group of Aggies for the 12th most in a single season at Texas A&M.
For the first time in the NCAA tournament the Aggies were not able to capture the doubles point to open the match. No. 21 Borna Gojo and Mansouri claimed a trio of breaks en route to a 6-0 win over No. 3 Arconada and Aguilar on the top court. The Deacons captured the point with a 6-3 win by No. 35 Botzer and Petros Chrysochos over AJ Catanzariti and Arthur Rinderknech on the second court.
After player transitioned to singles action, Wake Forest was able to capture the first set on the top three courts before a lightning delay caused a two hour delay. After lightning lingered in the area for over an hour, rain came through the area and forced the delay even further. After the delay, the Aggies were able to claim first sets on courts four and five while the Deacons picked up a tiebreaker on court six.
In addition to the doubles point, Wake Forest claimed wins on court one from No. 7 Gojo over No. 5 Patrick Kypson, on court two by No. 4 Chrysochos over No. 12 Rinderknech and Christian Seraphim over Barnaby Smith on court six.
While the historic team season has come to a close, a trio of singles players and a doubles team will feature in the upcoming NCAA Individual Championships. Kypson and Rinderknech earned national seeds, while Arconada will compete in both the singles and doubles bracket. Arconada will partner with Aguilar as the No. 3 national seed in the doubles draw.
The A&M season was one for the record books, the Aggies won more than 25 matches for the ninth time in season history and advanced to the NCAA Semifinals for the first time. Arconada and Rinderknech jumped into the top-10 in singles wins in program history, while Rinderknech also ventured into the top-15 in doubles wins and combined victories.