By John Delong
It was a great day for Wake Forest tennis on Saturday at the Winston-Salem Open.
Recent grad Petros Chrysochos and rising senior Borna Gojo were both victorious in their first-round qualifying matches, and both are now one win away from making the Main Draw.
Chrysochos beat Filip Peliwo 6-1, 6-0, while Gojo beat incoming Wake freshman Taha Baadi 6-4, 6-4. Both played their matches on a jam-packed Court Two, as Deacons fans filled the stands and created a fantastic atmosphere.
Chrysochos, a four-time All-American and the NCAA individual champion in 2018, was playing in the WSO for the fourth straight summer. In the past he didn’t make it out of qualifying twice, and once was a Main Draw wild card.
“I knew it was going to be a good match,” Chrysochos said. “I knew he was a good player. I was afraid the weather was going to be tough for me but it rained a little bit and I got a little rest, so I can’t complain about that. So I’m happy with my performance overall.”
Chrysochos has been playing Futures events much of the summer, and he said it felt good to be back in Winston-Salem.
“It feels like home,” he said. “It’s good to be back and have my teammates and fans cheering me on. It was a blast. It’s always a blast when I’m back on these courts, so it’ll be great to play again tomorrow.”
Chrysochos will face Bjorn Fratangelo on Sunday with the winner advancing to the Main Draw. Fratangelo ousted 2013 WSO champion Jurgen Melzer 6-4, 6-4 in his Saturday match.
Gojo made the Main Draw as a wild card two years ago before losing his first-round match, and he lost in qualies last year. He’s hoping this year will be different.
“Third time’s a charm, let’s hope,” Gojo said.
The three-time All-American was in control of his match all the way, but afterward he admitted it was not easy for him physically on a hot, muggy afternoon.
“It was a tough match,” Gojo said. “Tough conditions. Honestly, I wasn’t feeling very well today. I just couldn’t move and I just tried to push through, you know, and hang in there. At one point I thought about retiring, but I just tried to push through and hope I feel better tomorrow.”
The crowd motivated him, he said, and for sure there were every bit as many fans watching as were watching the Stadium Court match between 2013 champion Jurgen Melzer and Bjorn Fratangelo being held at the same time.
“It would mean everything to make the Main Draw,” Gojo said. “You saw the crowd here today. It was so fun to play with everyone watching. It would mean everything to me to make the Main Draw. It’s a situation where I am having fun and the fans are having fun. It was a great atmosphere to play in.”
Baadi too was appreciative of the crowd.
“I was not expecting that crowd,” Baadi said. “But it’s our home court. It was really fun to be able to play in front of people who appreciate you and want to see you do well. It was actually really fun even though I lost. I think we put on a great show today and it was a lot of fun.”
Gojo will face Marcos Giron on Sunday. Giron had an easy time beating Roy Smith 6-2, 6-0 on Saturday.
The other qualifying matches all went three sets/ Strong Kirchheimer beat Kevin Krawietz 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. The 2017 finalist Damir Dzumhur came through his match over American Kevin King 6-4, 2-6, 6-1. The remaining Americans in the qualifying draw split results on the day with Christopher Eubanks falling to Raymond Sarmiento 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. After a rain delay Daniel Nguyen upset the 6 seed Marcelo Arevalo also in three 6-4, 4-6, 7-6.