No. 4 men's tennis to close season against Hokies
Men's tennis team seeking eighth straight perfect ACC season
The No. 4 Virginia men’s tennis team concludes its regular season as they take on No. 36 Virginia Tech Saturday morning in Blacksburg. The Cavaliers moved up one spot in the national rankings last weekend after taking down No. 32 NC State and No. 25 Wake Forest.
A win against the Hokies (13-9, 5-5 ACC) would give Virginia (19-2, 10-0 ACC) an undefeated conference record for the eighth straight season. The Cavaliers are 51-8 all-time against VIrginia Tech and have the chance to extend their winning streak, both in the series and in the season, to 11 matches. The team’s last loss to the Hokies came by a score of 4-3 in 2003, also the last year Virginia failed to make at least the finals of the ACC Tournament.
“I think that obviously it is a rivalry for sure,” junior Mitchell Frank said. “Just because of the lack of fan support maybe in tennis, it [the rivalry] does not feel quite big as maybe Duke. With Duke and UNC, you feel that intensity a little bit more than with [Virginia] Tech.”
Virginia Tech is led by No. 21 sophomore Amerigo Contini, who plays this weekend following his take down of No. 35 sophomore Romain Bogaerts of Wake Forest and No. 51 junior Austin Powell of NC State. Those victories earned Contini ACC Player of the Week honors.
“They are our in-state rivals,” Frank said. “They have great players. And we’ve got to be able show up and be ready to go because they are going to be gunning for us.”
The Cavaliers’ deep lineup, which boasts seven ranked players, will pose a big challenge to Virginia Tech. At the top of the list is Frank, currently the No. 2 singles player in the country. He moved up two spots in the national rankings following the victories against the Wolfpack and the Demon Deacons.
“Guys are obviously going to play well against U.Va. in general just because we are one of the top teams in the country,” Frank said. “For me, personally — in general — a few of the guys play their best against me. Definitely, guys play their best against me but that is good for me because it really tests me day-in and day-out and does not let me have any easy matches.”
The freshman class of Jordan Daigle, Luca Corinteli, J.C. Aragone and Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, touted as the best recruiting class in the nation coming into the year by Tennis Recruiting Network, has certainly bolstered Virginia’s depth.
“They have exceeded my expectations in terms of performance and transition on and off the court,” Coach Brian Boland said. “This freshman class has gotten off to a great transition both on and off the court. In many ways, maybe too much success, too soon in a lot of ways, but I think they have handled that fairly well.”
Ranked No. 7 in the preseason among all freshmen, Kwiatkowski and his 8-0 record in conference play have lived up to the hype. Corinteli has teamed up with sophomore Mac Styslinger to form a doubles pair that now ranks 44th in the country. Daigle and Aragone have posted records of 19-5 and 16-3, respectively.
“They have had to be humble in their approach,” Boland said. “They know they are coming into a highly competitive team where they are going to have to share some of the limelight”
Virginia Tech has struggled in the doubles portion of matches, dropping the doubles point in seven out of the last 10 matches. The Hokies are 57-45 for the season in doubles matches and have gone only six wins out of 15 matches against doubles teams that are ranked. The Cavaliers have recently put senior Alex Domijan and sophomore Harrison Richmond in the first position for doubles. The two are currently riding a six match winning streak as a pair.
The match will start at 11 a.m. Sunday in Blacksburg.