HOW SWEET IT IS
No. 16 Columbia takes on No. 1 Wake Forest NCAA Men's Tennis Sweet 16 on Friday, May 18 at 4 p.m. from the Leighton Family Courts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Wake Forest (27-2, 11-1 ACC) and Columbia (19-4, 6-1 Ivy) both were winners in their respective conferences, and had similar paths to the second weekend of the tournament. The Demon Deacons topped Navy, 4-0, before a 4-1 defeat of South Carolina, who was able to steal a point in the No. 6 singles match. The Lions got by Monmouth, 4-0, in the first round before a 4-2 win over Virginia sent Columbia packing for Winston-Salem.
Friday marks the second ever meeting between the Lions and Demon Deacons, who played in the NCAA Tournament on May 15, 2010. Wake Forest was able to move on in the first round on that day with a 4-0 victory over Columbia.
ABOUT THE LIONS
Winners of five consecutive Ivy League titles, Columbia has it rolling at the right time.
A team dominated by underclassmen, a total of six Lions were named All-Ivy for their efforts this season. Junior Victor Pham was named the Ivy League Player of the Year, finishing the season as the top ranked singles player in the Ancient Eight at No. 27. The second-highest ranked member of the team was sophomore Jackie Tang at No. 62, as he was named a second team All-Ivy League singles selection. Picking up first team doubles nods were William Matheson and Jack Lin, the current No. 43 ranked pair, while Lin also was a second team singles selection. Also earning All-Ivy League accolades were second team selections Adam Ambrozy and Michal Rolski for their impressive doubles season, wrapping-up the year at 16-4.
Columbia entered the NCAA Tournament having won seven of their past eight matches, with the only loss coming to Dartmouth in a match they led 3-0 at one point. The 19 wins this season are the most since 2014, when the Lions went 22-2, losing to USC in the Sweet 16. The trip to Wake marks the third Sweet 16 run in the past five seasons for the winners of the past five Ivy League titles.
ABOUT THE DEMON DEACONS
The consensus No. 1 team in the country, Wake Forest has dominated this season, posting a 27-2 record with the only losses coming to No. 10 Florida (March 30, 4-3), and No. 20 Florida State (March 25, 4-3).
During those two losses, Wake had a slightly different lineup than they have played in the NCAA Tournament so far, but have been consistent with their selections near the top. Sophomore Borna Gojo, a 6-5 Croatian who has ranked as high as No. 143 on the ITF, has played No. 1 singles most of the year and has gone unbeaten in his last 12 appearances at that spot. Junior Petros Chrysochos, who is the top ranked player on the team at No. 4 in the ITA and has a loss on his record to Pham from the Oracle Invitational, is the No. 2 singles player for the Demon Deacons, and holds a 35-4 record this season. Also in the singles rankings for the squad include No. 38 Skander Mansouri and No. 108 Yuval Solomon, while six different doubles combinations are ranked for Wake, including No. 4 Chrysochos/Mansouri.
THE REST OF THE NCAA TOURNEY FIELD
Of the 16 seeded teams in the first two rounds, only No. 4 Stanford, No. 12 Florida State, and No. 14 Oklahoma were unable to secure a berth to Winston-Salem. Stanford was upended by Ole Miss in the second round, 4-3, Florida State was bested in the second round by Alabama, 4-2, and Oklahoma fell in the same round to Minnesota, 4-3.
Live Stats will be available through Wake Forest's website by clicking here.
All matches will be streamed live through Wake Forest's website and can be seen here.
With rain in the forecast over the weekend, the teams will have the option to play at the Wake Forest Indoor Tennis Center, which is right next to the outdoor courts. Since there are two matches scheduled to be played outside at the same time, the higher ranked teams will play at Wake, while the lower ranked teams are slated to travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and play at UNC. Friday's match for the Lions would fall into the former category, with Wake being the top seed in the tournament.
Following the conclusion of the team tournament, the NCAA Singles and Doubles Tournament will get under way on Wednesday, May 23. At the moment, Pham has qualified to play in the singles tourney, Lin and Matheson are scheduled to play in the doubles, while Tang is an alternate for both the singles tournament, and the doubles tourney alongside Pham.