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Men’s tennis ends season with ACC tournament defeat

Emma Bulman
The future is bright for the men’s tennis team after a decisive ACC Tournament victory over Notre Dame on Friday.

On Friday, the Clemson men’s tennis team fell 4-1 to the No. 2 University of Virginia Cavaliers in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. The defeat was preceded by a momentous first-round victory over Notre Dame.

Although Clemson (14-14, 4-8 ACC) could not get past the defending conference champions, their performance in Cary, North Carolina, showed real progress for the Tigers this season. Having lost 4-1 to Notre Dame (13-14, 4-8 ACC) earlier this year, Clemson flipped the script when it mattered most.

Early against the Fighting Irish, everything was coming up Clemson as duo Noa Vukadin and Max Smith beat No. 8-ranked doubles team Sebastian Dominko and Jean-Marc Malkowski. A clutch 7-5 win from Marko Mesarovic and Matt Pitts secured the doubles point and lit the fire for the Tigers.

Vukadin made it a day to remember as he handled business in singles play, winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. On the next court over, Wissam Abderrahman won in straight sets before freshman Stewart Aronson put the nail in the coffin with his victory.

“Great performances from multiple guys today, handling adversity well and being great mentally,” head coach Brandon Wagner said following the first-round win.

Celebrations were sweet but short-lived for the Tigers as the Cavaliers waited in the next round. UVA (22-5, 12-0 ACC) has won the ACC Tournament for the last two consecutive years, and both times they went on to win the NCAA National Championship.

The Cavaliers swept in doubles play as they swiftly took the first point of the afternoon, but the Tigers tested their tennis superpowers in singles play. Three Clemson players — Aronson, Smith and Abderrahman — forced a tiebreaker in the first set. Although Abderrahman was the only one to win his first set tiebreaker, the Tigers proved they could hold their own against even the strongest opponents.

On court one, Virginia’s Chris Rodesch, ranked No. 4 in the nation, battled Ryuhei Azuma. Rodesch prevailed in three sets. Last year’s ACC Player of the Year, Iñaki Montes-De La Torre, was in the middle of a deciding third set against Abderrahman when Virginia punched their ticket to the semifinals.

“It was a good step forward for the program overall,” Wagner said, despite the loss.

With a 14-14 record and an ACC quarterfinals appearance, the Tigers have improved since they went 11-15 (1-11 ACC) last season.

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Ethan Silipo, Senior Reporter
Emma Bulman, Art Editor
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