The Virginia men’s tennis team captured its second consecutive ITA National Team Indoor Championship with a 4-1 victory over Georgia in Monday’s final at the Midtown Tennis Club. The Cavaliers improve to 12-0 on the season while handing the Bulldogs (8-1) their first defeat of the season.
“This was a great match, what a championship match should be,” said Virginia head coach Brian Boland. “Both Virginia and Georgia fought the whole match and gave it everything they had. I am so proud of this team and I am proud to be national champions again.”
Virginia took a 1-0 lead by winning a tight doubles point. After Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.) and Dominic Inglot (London, England) won 8-4 over Christian Vitulli and Borja Malo at No. 2 doubles, the Cavaliers needed to win one of the other two matches, both of which went to a tiebreaker. At No. 1 doubles, third-ranked Houston Barrick (Brentwood, Tenn.) and Sanam Singh (Chandigarh, India) topped Nate Schnugg and Jamie Hunt 9-8 to clinch the opening point.
“That doubles point was critical today,” said Boland. “We knew it was going to be a battle in singles, which it was, so getting the doubles point was key.”
In singles, the Cavaliers doubled their lead as Barrick downed Malo 6-4, 6-0 at the No. 4 position. The Bulldogs got on the board at No. 1 singles where Schnugg defeated Inglot 6-3, 6-4 to make the score 2-1. Virginia extended its lead to 3-1 when Steven Eelkman Rooda (Amersfoort, The Netherlands) completed a 6-3, 6-2 win over Drake Bernstein at No. 5 singles. The match was clinched at No. 6 singles where Drew Courtney (Clifton, Va.) rallied for 0-6, 6-0, 7-5 win over Josh Varela.
“The bottom of the lineup came through for us today,” said Boland. “We have been so strong at No. 1, 2, and 3 all season, but Georgia has some firepower at the top of their lineup as well. The guys at the bottom played so well and our first-years at No. 5 and 6 stepped up big today. They have developed so much in a short time and carried us to this win.”
In the decisive match, Courtney shook of some early struggles and rallied to force a third set. The final set was tied 5-5 when Courtney broke Varela before closing out the match on his serve.
“In the first set, I was playing tight and was not hitting shots well,” said Courtney. “He was playing well and I was letting him take control of the points. After that set, I brushed it off and decided to be more aggressive. I tried to put the pressure on him and that seemed to work. In the final set, we both were playing our best and it was a matter of who wanted it more. I was able to hit some big shots when I needed them in order to win some key points at the end.”
Last season, the Cavaliers won the ITA National Indoor title to become the first ACC team to win a tennis national team championship (ITA Indoor or NCAA).
The Cavaliers return to action on Saturday as they host a pair of matches at the Boyd Tinsley Courts at the Boar’s Head Sports Club. Virginia will play Boise State at noon and Boston College at 6 p.m. The matches are part of a tennis quadruple-header as the women’s team hosts Marshall at 9 a.m. and Richmond at 3 p.m.
No. 5 Virginia 4, No. 3 Georgia 1
1. #3 Barrick/Singh (UVa) def. #40 Schnugg/Hunt (UGA) 9-8
2. #27 Inglot/Shabaz (UVa) def. Vitulli/Malo (UGA) 8-4
3. Courtney/Singer (UVa) vs. Garrapiz/Bernstein (UGA) 8-8 DNF
1. #18 Nate Schnugg (UGA) def. #43 Dominic Inglot (UVa) 6-3, 6-4
2. #24 Sanam Singh (UVa) vs. #35 Jamie Hunt (UGA) 6-7, 7-5, DNF
3. Javier Garrapiz (UGA) led #11 Michael Shabaz (UVa) 4-6, 6-3, 5-4 DNF
4. #68 Houston Barrick (UVa) def. Borja Malo (UGA) 6-4, 6-0
5. Steven Eelkman Rooda (UVa) def. Drake Bernstein (UGA) 6-3, 6-2
6. #108 Drew Courtney (UVa) def. Josh Varela (UGA) 0-6, 6-0, 7-5
Order of Finish