Squad advances to Seattle
Dominant performances from Domijan, Richmond propel team to ITA National Team Indoors
The No. 1 Virginia men’s tennis team kicked off its spring season with back-to-back wins against No. 63 North Florida and No. 55 Arkansas at Charlottesville’s own Boar’s Head Sports Club during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. With the wins, the Cavaliers secured a spot in the 2013 ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle.
Friday night, Virginia defeated North Florida 9-0, starting with a tightly contested doubles point. The No. 9 pair of junior Justin Shane and senior Julen Uriguen easily won 8-3, but the matches of No. 8 freshman Harrison Richmond and junior Alex Domijan and No. 4 senior Jarmere Jenkins and freshman Mac Styslinger each went to tiebreakers. Richmond and Domijan eventually took their match 8-7(2) to clinch the doubles point for Virginia, causing Jenkins and Styslinger’s doubles match to be abandoned.
The singles portion, however, was an entirely different story. All eight players for Virginia took their matches in straight sets, putting on a dominant showing from top to bottom. Sophomore Mitchell Frank, who missed the entire fall season due to a knee injury, won handily 6-1, 6-0. Frank spent much of last year as the top-ranked player in the nation and could barely contain his excitement about finally getting back onto the court in a competitive environment.
“For me personally, I couldn’t have asked for a much better starting match after the injury,” Frank said. “I’m really happy with the way I played, [I] felt like I moved great. I just competed hard, and good things happened tonight.”
On the other courts, Justin Shane won 6-1, 6-0, while his brother Ryan, a freshman, triumphed 6-1, 7-5. Domijan and Jenkins each came away winners by identical 6-2, 6-1 scores on the first and second courts, respectively. Uriguen took his match 6-1, 6-3, Styslinger won 6-3, 7-6(5) and Richmond completed the sweep with a 6-2, 7-5 win.
The following evening, the Cavaliers battled the Razorbacks, who won a matchup against Georgia State the day earlier. The doubles point was a much smoother affair for the Cavaliers than it was the previous evening, as Richmond and Domijan dispatched seniors Mike Ward and Gregoire Lehmann 8-3. Jenkins and Styslinger followed shortly after with an 8-4 victory. With the point already clinched for Virginia, Uriguen and Shane’s match was dropped.
“I thought overall [they performed] pretty well,” Virginia coach Brian Boland said. “I thought we played better in doubles today than we did yesterday. The guys came out with a lot more energy today and seemed to be moving better and working together at a higher level than we saw yesterday.”
In the singles portion of the match, Virginia secured the match and a trip to Seattle with five straight-set victories to take a 6-0 lead, eventually winning 6-1. Domijan topped Lehmann 6-3, 6-1 at on the first court, while Jenkins defeated freshman Santiago Munoz 6-2, 6-3 on court No. 2. Styslinger delivered the clincher, defeating sophomore Jovan Parlic 6-1, 6-3 on the third court. Frank and Richmond followed suit with two more wins. The Razorbacks scored their lone point in the last match when Uriguen fell in three sets to junior Mike Nott 6-1, 4-6, 4-6.
Neither of the Shane brothers played Saturday, as Justin took time to recover from a minor groin injury, so both teams agreed to play only six singles matches instead of the scheduled eight.
Up next for the Cavaliers are the ITA National Team Indoor Championships Feb. 15-18 in Seattle, hosted by the University of Washington. National Team Indoors will be the first major event of the spring season and will feature many teams expected to be in contention for the NCAA Championship in May. Virginia will enter the tournament as an early favorite because of its top ITA ranking and Mitchell Frank’s return to the lineup.
“We’ll have our first chance to measure up with the other teams across the board,” Boland said. “We’ll kind of see what we’re going to do with our lineup as we move into indoors. We have a lot of work to do over the next three weeks to prepare for that.”
After National Team Indoors, Virginia will begin the outdoor season with a home match against Oklahoma March 3.