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Upset Central: Men's NCAA Quarterfinals Recap

Upset Central: Men's NCAA Quarterfinals Recap
Photo: Bill Kallenberg
The No. 1 team in the nation Wake Forest went down to its ACC rival North Carolina, sending the Tar Heels to their first-ever NCAA Championship Final Four on a dramatic day of tennis at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., on Saturday. 

Just like UNC had to nervously sit through a five-hour rain delay with their match finishing at the stroke of midnight, so too did the host Bulldogs from the University of Georgia, as they upset No. 5 UCLA, 4-2, an hour earlier. 

So it will be North Carolina against Georgia in one semifinal on Monday at 4 p.m. In the 12 noon semifinal, Virginia will meet Ohio State.

Take a deep breath, and check out how it all went down on Saturday: 

No. 9 North Carolina 4, No. 1 Wake Forest 2
Saturday Stat: From start to finish, the match lasted eight hours. 

Here's What Happened: Playing in their first-ever NCAA quarterfinal, the top-ranked Demon Deacons were upset, 4-2, as Raleigh native Blaine Boyden provided the clinching victory at No. 6 singles for North Carolina (28-4). 

"I'm so proud of my team," UNC coach Sam Paul said. "They were focused and ready to go. They handled everything."
Boyden beat Wake's Alan Gadjiev, 6-2, 1-6, 6-2. On the final marathon point that lasted exactly one minute, both players traded forehands before Gadjiev hit a forehand long and Boyden immediately ripped off his shirt and began the celebration. 

"That's the thing about this team is we have a lot of guys who can step up, and today it was me who unbelievably was able to send us to the semifinals," Boyden said via UNC Men's Tennis Twitter. "It's unbelievable. We weren't really complaining about the rain delay. We had a little bit of momentum but we showered and ate and we had a good mindset and went over some game plans and we were ready to go once the first ball was struck."

We'll Leave You With This: North Carolina is just the second ACC Conference team to advance to an NCAA Men's Final Four in league history. Complete results here. 

No. 13 Georgia 4, No. 5 UCLA 2

Saturday Stat: In doubles, the nation's top-ranked team of Robert Loeb and Jan Zielinski is now 4-0 on the season against top five opponents it has faced this season in beating the No. 3-ranked and top UCLA team of Martin Redlicki and Evan Zhu. 

Here's What Happened: After losing the doubles points, the Bulldogs got wins in singles from No. 2, 4, 5 and 6 as the bottom half of the lineup came through. The Bruins were hurt by the loss of top player Gage Brymer, who had a medical procedure performed last week and was unable to make the trip. 

At No. 2 singles, Wayne Montgomery took out UCLA freshman Evan Zhu, 6-3, 6-4, while Walker Duncan (No. 5) and Robert Loeb (No. 6) also captured straight-set win leaving it up to Jan Zielinski to clinch it against Maxime Cressy at No. 4 in three sets, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. 

Just a few minutes before that at No. 1, UCLA's Martin Redlicki came up big with a win over Nathan Ponwith, 6-4, 1-6, 6-2. 

"Mighty proud of this bunch," said Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz, whose team improved to 22-7.

"They fought their hearts out and beat a very good team. We didn't play our very best at number two and three doubles and that got us in trouble, but they came out and really asserted themselves. Our number one team played well today, we just have to pick it up a little bit in doubles. The way we are competing in singles, we're playing really hard, and that gives us a chance. I am very proud of the way these guys believed in themselves and went out there and executed their game plans."
UCLA (22-7) took the doubles point with wins at Nos. 2 and 3. Both courts showcased fairly evenly-played matches, but breaks for the Bruins earned them the edge and sealed the point.

"Most of these college matches are a little bit of a roller coaster ride," said UCLA Head Coach Billy Martin. "I am still proud of my guys. We were without our captain and number one player for the year and to be where we got is still a good testimony to especially how hard these guys have worked all year. We could pretty much count on them for points in singles. It was still a great year for the Bruins in my opinion."

We'll Leave You With This: Courtesy the UGA Sports Information office: The Tar Heels will represent Georgia's third-straight opponent that had defeated the Bulldogs earlier in the season, as North Carolina beat Georgia, 4-2, on Feb. 17 at ITA National Indoors. The loss was part of a 3-5 start for the Bulldogs, who have now won 18 out of 20 matches since the end of that tournament. Complete results here. 

No. 3 Ohio St. 4, No. 6 TCU 3

Saturday Stat: Ohio State has now won 17 matches in a row and snapped TCU's 17-match win streak. 

Here's What Happened: When the two best players in college tennis had finally finished their match -- with No. 1 Cameron Norrie of TCU outlasting No. 2 Mikael Torpegaard of Ohio State, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 -- all eyes turned to Court 3 with the score knotted at 3-all. 

That's where Ohio State senior Hugo Di Feo was waging his own battle against TCU junior Guillermo Nuñez. After the pair split sets, Nunez went up a break 3-2 and held for a 4-2 advantage. Di Feo, from Montreal, broke right back, and then got back on serve 4-4. The ultra-important ninth game is where things got interesting as Di Feo fell behind 0-40, but managed to serve his way back into the game by winning four-straight points to take the lead 5-4. He then broke a tiring Nunez for a second-straight time for the 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win and the Buckeyes (33-3) moved on in Athens with a second-straight 4-3 nail-biter. 

"It's hard to grab momentum and keep momentum long," Ohio State Head Coach Ty Tucker said.
"TCU got momentum early in singles and then we got it back and then they got it back and then we ended up with it down the stretch. It's hard to establish anything for too long."
It was Ohio State's 11th win over a top-20 ranked team this year. 

"That was huge," Di Feo said. "I wasn't playing for myself, I was playing for the university and the guys. It's so much work. And coming here, it's a lot hotter than Ohio. We got used to it and the guys battled. I'm really happy for the guys and believe we can go through it."

The win for Norrie at No. 1 avenged Torpegaard's victory in the NCAA Singles semifinals last year in the pair's only previous meeting. The two will likely be the top-two seeds in this year's singles championship.

TCU Head Coach David Roditi was disappointed in the way the season ended for the Horned Frogs (22-5), saying after the match: "We did everything we could. You can sit here and analyze every single point, every single match, especially the ones you lose. You know, some are going to go your way, some are going to go against you. Today, credit to them. They're the ones that fought back from sets down. They're the ones that kept their focus when it mattered."

We'll Leave You With This: The Buckeyes advance to the semifinals for the fourth time in program history and the first since 2013. Complete results here. 

No. 2 Virginia def. No. 10 Texas, 4-1

Saturday Stat: Virginia advanced to the NCAA semifinals for the eighth consecutive year. 

Here's What Happened: The defending champion and No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers (32-1) used some dominating play from their California connection in stamping their ticket to the semifinals with a 4-1 victory over No. 10 Texas. Virginia advances to final four where they take on No. 3 Ohio State (33-3) on Monday at 12 noon.

Northern California's Collin Altamirano teamed with Southern Cal's J.C. Aragone to win their No. 3 doubles sets in leading Virginia to the doubles point. At No. 4 singles, Altamirano made quick work of George Goldhoff, 6-1, 6-0, for the 2-0 lead and following a straight-set win by Carl Soderlund at No. 3, Aragone clinched the match at No. 5 with a 6-2, 7-6 (3) win over Texas' Leo Telles. 

"It was hot and humid out here today, but I thought the guys came out and handled the conditions well," said Virginia head coach Brian Boland. "We have been working on our fitness all year and the guys are playing really composed for the most part."

Texas got its only point at No. 1 singles as Texas' Christian Sigsgaard downed Alexander Ritschard, 7-5, 6-3. 

"It's always great to clinch, but I have been here for four years so I really have nothing to lose out there, so I am just doing everything I can and if it goes my way that is great and lately it has been," said Aragone, of Yorba Linda, Calif. "Hopefully we can keep that going."

We'll Leave You With This: The Cavaliers and Buckeyes met earlier this season in the finals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship with Virginia picking up a 4-1 victory to secure its sixth ITA Championship in program history. Complete results here.

And We'll Really Leave You With This: Sunday's NCAA Women's Quarterfinal matches between Ohio State and Texas Tech and Stanford and North Carolina have been moved from noon to 10 a.m. And the Oklahoma State vs. Florida and Pepperdine vs. Vanderbilt quarterfinal has been moved to 1 p.m. from its original 4 p.m. slot to avoid Sunday's late afternoon forecasted rain.
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