Wake Forest Alum Efstathiou Goes From Cyprus, To College & Now Challenger Tour

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2023

Wake Forest Alum Efstathiou Goes From Cyprus, To College & Now Challenger Tour

The 24-year-old is a former ITA All-American

After a standout collegiate career, Cypriot Menelaos Efstathiou will now try his hand at the pro level.

The 24-year-old is set to compete in his first ATP Challenger Tour event this week at the Sparkasse Challenger Val Gardena in Ortisei, Italy. Efstathiou graduated this year from Wake Forest University, where he became just the second player from his school to earn Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year honours, joining Noah Rubin.

After finishing seventh in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Rankings, Efstathiou will receive up to eight spots at select ATP Challenger Tour events in the next year, including in Ortisei, thanks to the ATP/ITA Accelerator Programme. The goal of the programme is to become a launching pad for the top players within the American collegiate system and accelerate their journey to the pro level.

The college route is one that Efstathiou will forever cherish.

“College tennis is amazing. I improved my game overall, but I would say more, I became more mature over the last five years,” Efstathiou told ATPTour.com earlier this year. “The level is very high so you always compete with good players, it definitely helped me improve my maturity and raise my level.”

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How does a native of Limassol, Cyprus make the move to Winston-Salem, North Carolina? In large part because of his countryman Petros Chrysochos paving the pathway. Chrysochos, 27, won the 2018 NCAA singles title at Wake Forest and was a senior when Efstathiou started his college career.

“We’re good friends, we’re from the same academy. He put me in contact with the coaches and all that so it was kind of easy for me to choose Wake because of him,” Efstathiou said. “He was doing so well and he was telling me how good the program is. It was a pretty easy decision for me.”

Under the tutelage of head coach Tony Bresky, Wake Forest has produced a list of high-level players, including current World No. 77 Borna Gojo. The three-time ITA All-American Gojo was part of the Demon Deacons squad to capture the 2018 NCAA National Championship, the first in program history. The Croatian later turned pro in 2020 following three years at Wake Forest and is serving as an inspiration to Demon Deacons such as Efstathiou.

“We were on the team together,” Efstathiou said. “You could see how he was doing so well in college and still was very competitive. That kind of translates into playing well on the ATP Tour and he’s doing well, so it’s an inspiration for me as well to go and see what I can do.”

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Before Efstathiou arrived at Wake Forest, he was already familiar with playing in a team atmosphere. At age 17, he made his Davis Cup debut against Türkiye. Several months later, he would return to the squad against Tunisia alongside former World No. 8 Marcos Baghdatis.

“With Baghdatis, we’re from the same city in Cyprus, we sometimes used to practise together,” Efstathiou said. “When I started my first [Davis Cup], he was there. We have pretty good contact with each other. Whenever we practise together, he gives me good tips here and there. It’s for sure beneficial towards me.”

Following the Ortisei Challenger, Efstathiou will use another Accelerator spot at the Bergamo Challenger, where he is among the qualifying field.

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