Jackman rallies for three-set victory as Northwestern edges Wake Forest 4-3
ATHENS, Ga. -- Chris Jackman rallied for a dramatic three-set victory in the decisive singles match as Northwestern took a 4-3 thriller from Wake Forest in an NCAA tournament first-round matchup Friday at Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
With the victory, NU advances to take on host and third-seeded Georgia on Saturday.
"I'm very proud of the guys [Friday]," Northwestern head coach Arvid Swan. "We came back and played very hard after losing the doubles point. It was a collective team effort. Eight guys laid themselves on the line against a very good Wake Forest team. I'm so pleased to have senior Chris Jackman clinch the match for us."
The Demon Deacons were able to outlast the Wildcats in doubles play to surge in front in the match. Wake Forest got an 8-3 win at No. 1 to close with one victory of the doubles point. The NU pairing of Sidarth Balaji and Chris Jackman held an 8-7 advantage at No. 3 when the Demon Deacons closed out an 8-6 win at No. 2 to go in front 1-0 in the match.
Needing to win four singles matchups to take the match, Northwestern split the six opening sets. The 'Cats got first-set victories from Raleigh Smith at No. 2, Balaji at No. 3 and Alex Pasareanu at No. 5.
Balaji was able to make quick work of No. 78 Amongh Prabhakar in their match, notching a 6-3, 6-4 victory to even the match at 1. Pasareanu also was able to finish off his opponent in straight sets, defeating Jon Ho 6-4, 6-4 to give the Wildcats the lead in the match.
In two of the matches in which NU dropped the first set, it was able to come back and win the second to force a final decisive set. Spencer Wolf was one of those individuals as he dropped his first set 6-4 to David Hopkins at No. 1, but he bounced back to take the second 6-1. However, Hopkins got a late break to take the final set 6-4, evening the match at 2.
Smith, ranked 87th, was locked in a tight battle with Danny Kreyman throughout their matchup. The first-team All-Big Ten selection was able to outlast Kreyman in a pair of tiebreakers, winning 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4) to bring the 'Cats within one victory of taking the match.
At No. 4, Mihir Kumar battled 106th-ranked Adam Lee to a first-set tiebreaker, but the Kumar wasn't able to pull it off, falling 7-6 (4) before dropping the second set 6-2, leaving the match to be decided by the match at No. 6.
Jackman dropped his opening set with Morgan Mays 6-3 before staying alive with a win in a second-set tiebreaker. Things weren't looking good for the Wildcats as Mays took a 3-1 lead in the decisive set. However, Jackman rallied back to win the next three games to go up 4-3. Mays wouldn't go away, though, as he held serve and then broke Jackman to go up 5-4. Serving for the match, Mays was up 30-love and was two points from victory, but Jackman managed to break back to make it 5-5. Jackman was able to hold and then broke Mays once again, giving Northwestern the thrilling victory.