CARY, N.C. - Senior Amogh Prabhakar won 7-6 in the third set in the deciding match as No. 24 Wake Forest pulled off one of its biggest wins in recent memory, rallying from a 3-0 deficit to stun No. 9 Duke 4-3 in the semifinals of the ACC Championship on Friday at Cary Tennis Park in Cary, N.C.
"It feels great," said Wake Forest head coach Tony Bresky. "To win the way that we won - 7-6 in the third with our senior leader who was cramping at the end (winning) - you couldn't ask for more than that."
The Demon Deacons (20-7) will play for the 2013 ACC Championship tomorrow, taking on top-seed Virginia at 11 a.m., also in Cary.
"We've worked really hard and the guys are plenty fit, so I'm not worried about any lasting effects from today's match," said Bresky. "We're going to have to play our best tennis; there's a reason that (Virginia is) No. 2 in the country. We're going to have to come out and battle like we did today and believe that we can win."
Wake Forest rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the score at 3-3, leaving the match to be decided at No. 4 singles where the Prabhakar, ranked No. 78 nationally, was battling Duke's No. 52 Michael Redlicki in the third set.
The two players traded breaks throughout the set before Redlicki took his first lead at 6-5 and stepped up to the line to serve out the match for Duke. But Prabhakar, who was fighting cramps, refused to lose, breaking the Duke freshman at love to send the match to a deciding third-set tiebreak.
Prabhakar won the first point of the tiebreak, and on the second point, Redlicki was overruled by the chair umpire - his third overrule of the match - costing him an additional point penalty. That would prove to be key as a few points later, with Prabhakar leading 4-0, Redlicki was overruled again. Since it was his fourth overrule of the match, he was assessed a game penalty, ending the tiebreak and the match, and giving Wake Forest the win.
"I couldn't believe it," said Prabhakar. "I've wanted this really bad. (The seniors) have been here four years and we wanted one big signature win. We got one, and we have a chance to get another one tomorrow, so we can't wait."
Duke snuck past Wake Forest in the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead in the match and the Blue Devils quickly pushed the lead to 3-0 with straight set wins by No. 6 Henrique Cunha at No. 1 and Jason Tahir at No. 6.
But the Deacons slowly began to regain momentum.
Danny Kreyman got the comeback started at No. 2 singles, where he rolled past 37th-ranked Fred Saba 6-4, 6-2 to notch the highest-ranked win out of the 105 that he has recorded in his long career.
Freshman Jon Ho earned the Deacons second point at No. 5, smashing groundstrokes from all over the court to defeat No. 70 Raphael Hemmeler 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 for the first ranked victory of his career.
At that point, the Deacons looked to be in good shape despite trailing 3-2. Prabhakar led 4-2 in the third set against Redlicki, and in the other match, No. 105 Adam Lee was serving for the match at 5-3 in the second set against Duke's No. 112 Chris Mengel.
But the Blue Devils would not go down quietly. Mengel broke Lee and then held to tie the score at 5-5 and Redlicki got back on serve at the No. 3 match, once again leaving the outcome up in the air.
Lee fought through a tough service game to hold and take a 6-5 lead, and then jumped all on Mengel in the next game, closing out the match 7-5, 7-5 to knot the score 3-3. Lee's victory was his 37th in singles this season, setting a Wake Forest school record. The junior is an impressive 23-2 in dual matches.
Minutes later Prabhakar rallied to send his match to a third-set tiebreak, and Wake Forest's celebration would follow shortly after.
#24 Wake Forest 4, #9 Duke 3
1. #6 Henrique Cunha (DU) def. David Hopkins (WF) 6-2, 6-1
2. Danny Kreyman (WF) def. #37 Fred Saba (DU) 6-4, 6-2
3. #78 Amogh Prabhakar (WF) def. #52 Michael Redlicki (DU) 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5-0, game penalty)
4. #105 Adam Lee (WF) def. #112 Chris Mengel (DU) 7-5, 7-5
5. Jon Ho (WF) def. #70 Raphael Hemmeler (DU) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
6. Jason Tahir (DU) def. Anthony Delcore (WF) 6-1, 6-2
1. #2 Henrique Cunha/Raphael Hemmeler (DU) def. #48 David Hopkins/Amogh Prabhakar (WF) 9-7
2. #24 Michael Redlicki/Jason Tahir (DU) def. Danny Kreyman/Adam Lee (WF) 8-3
3. #64 Chris Mengel/Fred Saba (DU) vs. Jon Ho/Anthony Delcore (WF) 5-7, unfinished
Wake Forest 20-7; National ranking #24
Duke 22-5; National ranking #9
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1*); Singles (1,6,2,5,4,3*)
ACC Championship - Semifinals
Duke's Michael Redlicki assessed a game penalty at 0-5 in the third set tiebreak