No. 10 Men’s tennis bounces back, wins three weekend matches
Cavaliers best two top-10 opponents, Domijan preserves unblemished duel record
Coming off its first loss in more than a year and half, the No. 10 Virginia men’s tennis team rebounded to take down both No. 8 Baylor and No. 6 Notre Dame with a score of 6-1, and shut out Liberty 10-0.
The Cavaliers (9-1, 2-0 ACC) were challenged early Saturday as the Bears took them deep into the doubles portion of the match. With all three matches tied at 7-7, the pair of seniors Alex Domijan and Justin Shane gave the Cavaliers an early advantage by taking their match on the first court, 8-7.
Junior Mitchell Frank and freshman Luca Corinteli clinched the doubles point for the Cavaliers when the pair pulled away in the tiebreaker at No. 2 after jumping to an early 4-1 lead.
The Cavaliers managed to convert opportunities into crucial points late in the match. Frank attacked the net particularly well in his doubles match with sharp slices down the line.
“One of the things we tried to focus [on] is being aggressive and making sure we’re always tight to the middle,” coach Brian Boland said. “I think we’ve gotten better at it over time with our reflexes. I think the guys have done a tremendous job of learning great doubles fundamentals.”
Sophomore Mac Styslinger and freshman Thai-Son Kwiatkowski were embroiled in a tiebreaker when the Cavaliers clinched the doubles point and did not finish at No. 3. Styslinger and Kwiatkowski remain undefeated on the season as a pair.
No. 73 Styslinger entered his singles match and blitzed junior Tony Lupieri, going up 3-0 early in both the first and second sets of his match. Styslinger dispatched Lupieri 6-2, 6-1 to double Virginia’s advantage to 2-0. After falling behind early on the first set, No. 92 Domijan came back and won in convincing fashion against No. 18 junior Diego Galeano to increase the Cavalier lead to 3-0.
Baylor finally got on the board when No. 6 sophomore Julian Lenz took down No. 4 Frank, 6-2, 6-2, to cut Virginia’s lead to 3-1.
However, the Cavaliers did not look back after Frank’s loss and went onto win the next three matches. Virginia clinched the match against Baylor when sophomore Ryan Shane defeated No. 13 senior Patrick Pradella, 6-4, 6-2. The victory against Pradella gave Shane the highest ranked win of his career.
The Cavaliers rarely exhibited frustration against Baylor and Notre Dame, even when borderline calls went against them, a characteristic Boland credits to the way the Cavaliers practice.
“We try to coach it that way,” Boland said. “You’re always going to get close calls, you have to move on. It’s something we spend a lot of time on during practice and your practice habits transition into your matches.”
The Cavaliers started off the doubles portion of the match hot against the Irish Sunday, as Domijan and sophomore Harrison Richmond broke senior Ryan Bandy and sophomore Eric Schnurrenberger. Domijan overpowered the duo with his serve — neither Bandy nor Schnurrenberger were able to return the senior’s serves past the net during the last game, dropping the match, 8-5.
Styslinger and Corinteli then upset the No. 11 team of senior Greg Andrews and sophomore Alex Lawson, 8-5, to secure the doubles point.
The Cavaliers carried the momentum into the singles portion of the match, with Kwiatkowski, Styslinger and Domijan all breaking their opponents immediately.
The Cavaliers seemed to be running away with the match until No. 124 Notre Dame freshman Josh Hagar battled back against Styslinger to grab an early 1-4 lead in the second set.
At No. 1, Ryan Shane grabbed the first set 6-3 but then rain forced the Cavaliers to move the match indoors to the Boar’s Head Sports Club.
The 45-minute rain delay did not seem to bother the Cavaliers, as Domijan immediately won his match and doubled Virginia’s advantage against Notre Dame to 2-0. Sophomore Ryan Shane went on to add another signature to his weekend with a win against No. 28 Andrews to put the Cavaliers up 3-0.
Ryan’s brother, senior Justin Shane, dropped Virginia’s first point, falling to Bandy in straight sets. Freshman J.C. Aragone picked up a victory in his debut against junior Wyatt McCoy, 7-6, 6-4. Aragone’s victory clinched the match against Notre Dame and was followed by a win from fellow freshman Kwiatkowski shortly after.
“In a lot of ways it was a different team on the court,” Boland said. “We brought in J.C. Aragone for his debut. It was a big change, we made some changes. We’ll continue to do that to give guys experience and see what they can do in big moments.”
Styslinger posted a hard fought three-set victory against Hagar after dropping the second set. Styslinger’s serve was on full display in the final set when he blasted four straight unreturnable serves at Hagar to push the score to 5-4 — he finished the set 7-5 to take the match. Hagar topped Styslinger in indoors earlier in the year, so when the rain delay forced the Cavaliers to move indoors, Styslinger had to adjust his play.
“[Hagar] is a better indoor player and he likes to hit the ball flat,” Styslinger said. ““They’re both great teams so I think [the wins] just give us some confidence moving forward.”
Virginia next took on Liberty, and defeated the Flames by a score of 10-0. Domijan and Justin Shane teamed up to trounce No. 59 doubles team of senior Shea Thomas and junior Jorge Azuero, 8-1.
Domijan is undefeated in duel play this season, while sophomores Jonathan Cornish and Alex Scheinman picked up their first wins this season.
The Cavaliers return to the court Thursday in Los Angeles, where they will face No. 4 UCLA at 3 p.m.