Coming into Wednesday morning’s first-round ACC Tournament matchup in Cary, N.C., Boston College men’s tennis had still yet to record a victory in the annual competition this decade—not much of a surprise, considering the Eagles are 1-47 in conference play over the course of the past four years alone. That said, their opponent, Clemson, hadn’t advanced to the second round of ACCs since 2015. Something had to give. Unfortunately for head coach Scott Wilkins, that something was BC, and the the Eagles lost to the Tigers for the second time in five days by a 4-2 scoreline, ending their season winless in league action.
Just like last weekend, BC (7-17, 0-12 Atlantic Coast) gave Clemson (10-16, 2-10) fits. On Wednesday, though, the Eagles were at their best in the opening stages of the match. In fact, despite losing the doubles point, BC proceeded to established a 2-1 lead, threatening to avenge its 5-2 defeat to the Tigers days earlier.
The match all started with a doubles point that could have gone either way. Once again, the Clemson underclassmen duo of Teodor Giusca and Yizhou Liu got the best of Derek Austin and Conor Mullins. BC’s top doubles team stole one more game from Giusca and Liu than it did in the previous matchup but still fell short, 6-4. Things got interesting on courts two and three. Pierre-Louis Dodens and Jacob Jahn squeaked by Chris Grasel and Max Palmer, 7-5, improving to 10-4 as a pairing this season. When that match ended, Simon Baudry and Mike Agee of Clemson found themselves in an intense bout against Sean Mullins and Max Mendelsohn—one that was cut short with the score tied at six games apiece.
Yet it wasn’t long before BC got on the board. Actually, because Dodens retired on court four while trailing, 3-1, Mendelsohn picked up a quick win, tying the match at 1-1 in the process. Then, shortly after, Derek Austin beat No. 92 Simon Baudry in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, providing the Eagles their lone lead of the morning. It was then that Clemson took over the match—more specifically, the Tigers’ freshmen stole the spotlight.
Clemson closed the match with three singles victories, all of which came at the hands of first-year Tigers. None were decisive, though. Giusca got the ball rolling with a 7-6, 6-2 win on court three, but if he hadn’t prevailed amid the first-set tiebreaker, there’s no telling how the final frame would have played out. Agee encountered even more difficulties than his classmate. Following a narrow 7-5 first-set victory, the freshman dropped the second frame to Connor Mullins, 7-6, before rebounding in the last stanza, 6-3. Of the three, Jahn came the closest to suffering defeat. The Mount Pleasant, S.C., native was shut out in his first set against BC’s Alexander Chieffalo, 6-0. Jahn nearly lost the match the following frame but instead eked out a 7-5 victory, setting the stage for a 6-2 third-set win.
The Eagles just needed to take one of those bouts to tie the match at three points. In that case, all of the attention would have been directed toward second singles, where Grasel and Liu exchanged points back and forth into a third-set tiebreaker. After Agee clinched the match, play was stopped, leaving Grasel—who won the second set and was a few points away from claiming the final frame—with nothing more than a whole lot of momentum and time to think about what could have been.
For the second year in a row, BC enters the offseason with seven wins to its name. The Eagles haven’t logged double-digit victories since 2010. BC was either shut out or held to one point in nine of its 12 ACC losses this season. As the team moves into the Connell Recreation Center this fall, it will certainly miss the Flynn Recreation Complex and all of its memories, but a change of scenery is exactly the kind of fresh start a program stuck in the ACC cellar needs.
Featured Image by Michaela Mark / For The Heights