No. 5 Cavs host Wolfpack, Demon Deacons
Team seeks 11th straight regular season title with wins in final home matches
The No. 5 Virginia men’s tennis team hosts No. 32 North Carolina State and No. 23 Wake Forest Friday and Sunday, respectively, for their final home matches of the regular season. With wins against both squads this weekend, the Cavaliers (17-2, 8-0 ACC) would clinch at least a share of the regular season ACC title for an unprecedented 11th consecutive year.
A depleted squad of Cavaliers led by senior Alex Domijan was able to come away with a comeback victory against Clemson. With key players such as junior Mitchell Frank and sophomore Mac Styslinger sidelined, the Cavaliers were pushed to the brink and showcased their ability to win even without big names like Frank and Styslinger.
“I think it’s a huge positive that the team is faced with adversity and have our back against the wall,” coach Brian Boland said. “I could not be more impressed with how the players embrace adversity and I know they will continue to do so leading up to the matches against NC State and Wake Forest.”
On Friday, Virginia will take on the Wolfpack (14-7, 3-5 ACC), a team looking to add another marquee win to its regular season résumé. Last week, NC State took down No. 12 Notre Dame, led by an upset in the doubles portion of the match with the No. 38 doubles team of freshman Ian Dempster and junior Robbie Mudge beating Notre Dame’s No. 14 doubles duo senior Greg Andrews and sophomore Alex Lawson. The Wolfpack has won the crucial doubles point in 17 out of its 21 matches this season. The doubles portion will likely prove to be a good litmus test for the Cavaliers as they finalize their postseason lineup.
“We have gotten closer to that [choosing a doubles lineup] now that we are getting closer to the postseason,” Boland said. “One of the things I talk to them about is the ability to adapt and adjust to all types of situations. There’s nothing more important in being successful as a tennis team than our ability to embrace our ability to adjusting and adapting.”
One of the adjustments the Cavaliers had to make this year has been replacing the depth lost by graduated player of the year Jarmere Jenkins. Sophomore Ryan Shane has stepped up in recent weeks and now consistently plays in any of the first three singles positions for the Cavaliers. Shane attributes his jump to the next level to taking advantage of the resources Boland provides.
“Coming in freshman year, it’s a new experience and [there are] a lot opportunities that Boland provides the freshman coming in,” Shane said. “You don’t realize what he has to offer until the older guys show you.”
The Cavaliers will again be tested Saturday against a Wake Forest team that has won five of the last six matches, the only loss in that stretch coming narrowly against No. 12 Notre Dame, 4-3. The Demon Deacons (14–8, 3–4 ACC) are rebounding well after a midseason slump in March, in which they lost five straight against some of the top teams in the country, including No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 7 Texas and No. 8 North Carolina. The Demon Deacons are led by No. 34 sophomore Romain Bogaerts, who has scored a number of major victories this year against top players like No. 5 Guillermo Alcorta of the Sooners.
Start time for the NC State match is set for 3 p.m. Friday, while opening serve for the match against Wake Forest will be at 1 p.m. Sunday. Charlottesville will be the site of USTA’s College MatchDay for the match between Virginia and the Wolfpack, with the competition broadcast live on ESPN3.