CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Deadlocked at 3-3, freshman Shunsuke Mitsui won a three-set battle on court four to send the No. 6 Tennessee men's tennis team to the NCAA Semifinal round for a second consecutive year, with a 4-3 win over third-ranked Baylor Thursday afternoon.
Despite dropping the first set to Baylor's Finn Bass, 3-6, Mitsui earned a second-set tiebreak victory that sent the match to a third set. Mitsui broke Bass to go up 2-1 in the third, but Bass would break back to tie the set at 4-4. After breaking on the ninth game of the third set, Mitsui held serve once more to send Tennessee (26-7) to the national semifinals for the eighth time in program history.
Baylor's (29-4) dual season comes to a close, with two of its four defeats in 2022 coming to Tennessee.
Tennessee opened the match by collecting the doubles point, using wins on courts two and three and take an early 1-0 lead. After Baylor won on court one of doubles, Tennessee's 21st-ranked pairing of Emile Hudd and Shunsuke Mitsui took down Baylor's ninth-ranked duo of Juampi Mazzuchi and Matias Soto, 6-1 on court two. The doubles clinch came on court three, as Johannus Monday and Mark Wallner took a 6-4 win on court three over the Bears' Adrian Boitan and Tadeas Paroulek. Monday and Wallner went down a break early at 0-2, before breaking back and later tying it at 2-all. The UT pair went up a break at 4-3 and carried that momentum to a 6-4 victory.
The Bears took a 2-1 lead with a pair of early singles wins on courts five and six. Then, Tennessee's #74 Hudd evened the match at 2-2 with a 7-6(3), 6-3 win over #73 Sven Lah on court three. Emile rifled in an ace on deuce point to hold serve and tie the first set at 4 apiece. That turned out to be a crucial hold, as Lah took a 5-4 lead in the next game before Hudd took the first-set tiebreak on another ace, 7-3. In the second set, Hudd jumped out to a 4-1 lead and served it out at 5-3 for the win.
Trailing 3-2, third-ranked Walton came through in the clutch as he has many times during his five years on Rocky Top, battling back for a 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 win over Baylor's #5 Boitan. Down a break at 3-5 in the third set, Walton broke to bring it to 4-5, held serve and then broke once more to take a 6-5 advantage before serving it out and tying the match at 3-all. Mitsui's clinch came just minutes later.
EIGHTH NCAA SEMIFINAL
The win sends Tennessee to its eighth NCAA semifinal in program history. The Vols also reached the NCAA semifinals in 2021. Prior to that, Tennessee's last appearance in the semifinals came in 2010.
The Vols face the winner of Florida vs. Virginia, Saturday at 2 p.m. ET in the semifinals. Streaming and commentary will be provided on the TennisONE app.
1. #3 Finn Bass/Sven Lah (BU) def. #13 Pat Harper/Adam Walton (UT) 6-1
2. #21 Emile Hudd/Shunsuke Mitsui (UT) def. #9 Juampi Mazzuchi/Matias Soto (BU) 6-1
3. Johannus Monday/Mark Wallner (UT) def. Adrian Boitan/Tadeas Paroulek (BU) 6-4
Order of Finish: (1,2,3)
1. #3 Adam Walton (UT) def. #5 Adrian Boitan (BU) 3-6, 6-1, 7-5
2. #36 Matias Soto (BU) def. #10 Johannus Monday (UT) 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
3. #74 Emile Hudd (UT) def. #73 Sven Lah (BU) 7-6 (7-3), 6-3
4. Shunsuke Mitsui (UT) def. Finn Bass (BU) 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4
5. #58 Tadeas Paroulek (BU) def. Angel Diaz (UT) 6-2, 6-4
6. Juampi Mazzuchi (BU) def. Pat Harper (UT) 6-1, 6-2