TOBIN: Men’s tennis is really, really good

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Brian Boland ushered in a golden age for Virginia men's tennis, and the school will be hard-pressed to find someone of his caliber to replace him.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

Admittedly, I am not the biggest tennis fan. I played a bit in high school, but never really cared to follow the collegiate or professional levels. The sport just isn’t that exciting to me and, subsequently, I haven’t really paid attention to Virginia’s teams.

However, after reading my colleague Evan Davis’ article on the men’s tennis team, I could not help but be impressed. After looking further into the team, I’ve arrived at what may seem like a pretty obvious conclusion — the men’s tennis team is really, really good.

Let’s get some obvious statistics out of the way. The Cavaliers are ranked No. 2 in the nation. They stand at an undefeated 17-0 and are the only undefeated team in the country. They have dominated some of the nation’s best teams, including clean sweeps of North Carolina and UCLA — two teams currently ranked in the ITA Top 25.

Looking deeper, though, this season has been particularly impressive by Virginia. Sure, it’s not like Virginia has exactly been lackluster in recent years — the Cavaliers have won three championships in the past four seasons. Yet with its 17-0 start, Virginia is off to its best start since the 2012-13 season. In that season, the Cavaliers started off 17-0 and went on to finish the season with a perfect 30-0. If that season foreshadows the current season, then Virginia is poised for yet another successful year.

Virginia’s latest matchup against Duke serves a microcosm for just how dominant the team has been this year. Not only did the Cavaliers win each of the seven matches but they also did not give up a single set. The only time a Blue Devil came close to winning came in the second set between Virginia’s and Duke’s No. 1 players, senior Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and freshman Spencer Furman, respectively. Kwiatkowski won the set on a tiebreaker, 9-7.

"I believe we are getting better with each match," Coach Brian Boland said. "I have certainly seen the guys improve as competitors throughout the year. We just need to concentrate on continuing to play good doubles and focus one day at a time the rest of the season, starting with our next match. We are looking forward to what is ahead and I am really pleased with where we are right now.”

It’s hard to believe that this Virginia squad is getting even better as the season goes on because of just how consistently unbeatable it has been. In five of Virginia’s past six matches, the Cavaliers have not lost a single point. In fact, in Virginia’s 17 matches on the season, the Cavaliers have only lost 11 points — including six in their two matches against Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Put simply, the Cavaliers are not only winning — they are constantly routing their opponents.

Moving forward, the Cavaliers immediately face a tough task in No. 1 Wake Forest. With this match taking place in the Demon Deacons’ home turf of Winston-Salem, N.C., it may be the most difficult challenge the Cavaliers have faced all season. Yet, I fully expect them to come out of it the victor. If the Cavaliers can annihilate or convincingly beat their ACC rivals, then nothing will stop them from taking home yet another championship come the end of this season.

I’m embarrassed to say that this team has somehow slipped under my radar. The Virginia men’s tennis team has serious talent — so much so that it would be a farce to argue any other sports team is the best Virginia has.

Ben Tobin is an Assistant Managing Editor for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at b.tobin@cavalierdaily.com or on Twitter at @TobinBen.

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