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Three Bears Reach NCAA Tennis Quarterfinals

May 23, 2014

ATHENS, Ga. – All three Golden Bears playing in Friday’s rounds of 16 advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinals, as California’s 28th-ranked pair of Gregory Bayane and Chase Melton beat N.C. State’s 29th-ranked team of Ian Dempster/Robbie Mudge to advance in the NCAA Doubles Championship at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Earlier in the day, Cal’s 55th-ranked Ben McLachlan defeated Vanderbilt’s 59th-ranked Ryan Lipman, 6-3, 6-4, in the NCAA Singles Championship.

Melton and Bayane, both juniors, lost the first set to the Wolfpack tandem but rebounded to prevail, 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(5). They are the first Cal doubles team to reach the NCAA quarterfinals since the duo of Eric Dmytruk and Scott Kintz got that far in 2000.

“Just an incredible effort out there today,” Cal head coach Peter Wright said. “Both teams played incredibly throughout the match, and the drama at the end had the crowd on the edge of their seats. N.C. State served for the match at 5-4 in the third, but some key returns from Chase Melton allowed us to break back and eventually take it to a tiebreaker. We were down 4-0 in the tiebreaker before winning six in a row to get to match point. We won on a long point with the last shot being an incredible reflex volley from Chase Melton. The quality shotmaking was so high and the drama was so intense that the crowd gave both teams an ovation after the match.”

Bayane and Melton claimed ITA All-America honors by advancing to the doubles quarterfinals, while McLachlan, a senior, earned All-America status by reaching the singles round of 16. The Cal star is the first Bear to reach the NCAA singles quarterfinals since Conor Niland in 2006.

“Ben usually relies quite heavily on his serve, but today it was his punishing returns that made the difference,” Wright said. “The conditions are extremely hot and humid, and Ben’s fitness has been one of his strengths. Overall, Ben has been sticking to his game plan throughout the tournament, and he’s been excellent at controlling the tempo of his service games.”

The temperature was in the 90s much of the day in Athens, where the NCAA singles and doubles tournaments are being played outdoors.

McLachlan plays UCLA’s second-seeded and second-ranked Marcos Giron at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET in Saturday’s quarterfinals. The Golden Bear has a 1-0 record against Giron. The Bear and Bruin played once earlier this year, and the match was abandoned with McLachlan leading 6-3, 3-6, 2-1. Last year, McLachlan beat the then-UCLA freshman, 6-2, 7-6(5).

In Saturday’s doubles quarterfinal round, Melton and Bayane will play Tennessee’s second-seeded/second-ranked Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese at 11:30 a.m. PT/2:30 p.m. ET.

NCAA Championships

May 23, 2014, in Athens, Georgia

University of Georgia - Dan Magill Tennis Complex

Singles Round of 16

No. 55 Ben McLachlan (Cal) def. No. 59 Ryan Lipman (Vanderbilt) – 6-3, 6-4

Doubles Round of 16

No. 28 Gregory Bayane/Chase Melton (Cal) def. No. 29 Ian Dempster/Robbie Mudge (N.C. State) – 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(5)