Sept. 16, 2006
by Steve Kirkland
Assistant Director, UVa Athletics Media Relations
As the 2006-07 men's tennis season opens, Cavalier fans will notice some new faces in the lineup. With the graduation of four players that were four-year starters, this year's roster will have quite a different look. However, one thing that will not change is the player at the top of the lineup. Junior Somdev Devvarman has established himself not only as the Cavalier No. 1 player, but also as one of the top collegiate players in the nation.
"Somdev has been a significant part of our success over the past two seasons," head coach Brian Boland said. "He has worked extremely hard on his game and has developed into one of the best players in the country. He is not only an outstanding player, but he does a tremendous job in the classroom. I look for him to play a critical leadership role for us this season."
Since he arrived in Charlottesville in the fall of 2004, Devvarman has been a standout on the court. During his first season, he won 39 singles matches, one shy of the school season record, earned ACC Freshman of the Year honors, and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament,
"I was nervous coming in as a freshman, but being a foreigner, my expectations were different as I didn't know how good the level of tennis was in college," said Devvarman, who hails from India. "I expected to win every match I played, even as a freshman. I felt I had that potential. That, along with the tremendous support from the team and my coaches, has always driven me to achieve nothing but the best."
Last season, Devvarman had another successful season. He reached the finals of the NCAA singles championship, becoming just the second Cavalier to accomplish the feat. He was named an All-American, and was an All-ACC performer for the second consecutive season. Yet, Devvarman is still determined to accomplish even more during his college career.
"My main goal is to help our team win the national championship," Devvarman said. "Along with that, we also want to continue to be dominant in the ACC and win as many championships and matches as we can. For myself, I hope to have a better overall season and continue to improve my tennis. I don't want to have too many expectations for myself other than to work hard and continue to improve, and finish one spot better than I did last year."
The drive that Devvarman has to improve his game has been evident since he arrived at Virginia. He credits the work of the coaches and his teammates for a large part of that success.
"I would say working hard in a healthy environment, such as ours, is a big asset that any athlete would want," he said. "I am fortunate to be in one of the best athletic programs in the country. My coaches patiently spend a lot of hours helping me with my game, and my teammates always push me in practice. I would also say that balancing my school work, social life, and tennis helps me have good time, and that's a big reason I never get bored of the game. I'm excited to play every time I step on a court. I think being excited about my tennis and constantly finding areas to improve has helped me challenge myself. This has helped me develop as a player."
The Cavaliers will be looking to build upon the accomplishments of the last several years, which included two ACC Championships, two NCAA quarterfinal appearances, and a No. 1 national ranking. Devvarman has been an instrumental part of a lot of that success, and with him in the lineup this year, the Cavaliers seem poised to make even more history this season.