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Men's tennis escapes rain, crushes 'Pack

On a day when rain forced a move indoors to the Boar's Head Sports Club, the Virginia men's tennis team created its own flood of victories, dispatching N.C. State 7-0 Saturday.

The Cavaliers (14-6, 4-2 ACC) swept all three doubles matches and then cruised through each of the six singles matches in straight sets in what was perhaps their finest performance of the season.

"It was the first time in a long time we've all put it together and played pretty well," junior Huntley Montgomery said.

"I was ecstatic," Cav coach Dick Stockton said. "That may be the best we've played as a team this year from top to bottom."

Virginia was looking to avenge last year's 4-3 upset loss in Raleigh. The Wolfpack (9-13, 0-5) came into Saturday's match winless in the conference but have been very competitive in each of their matches, often losing by a point or two.

"I thought this was a very dangerous match for us," Stockton said. "The guys played great and hopefully it's the start of something good for us."

The Cavs used familiarity to their advantage, as both Montgomery and fellow junior Brian Vahaly renewed old youth tennis rivalries against their respective opponents.

Montgomery defeated fellow North Carolina native Devang Desai 6-3, 6-3 at No. 2 singles, while Vahaly, the nation's fourth-ranked player, beat Eric Jackson 6-4, 6-3 at No. 1.

"I played him ever since I was nine," Vahaly said of Jackson, a fellow Atlanta native. "I knew everything about his game and he knew everything about mine. It was just a matter of who was going to play better."

John Winter, the only Cavalier senior who played Saturday, crushed Keith Salmon 6-1, 6-1 at No. 3, avenging last year's loss.

"John played unbelievable today," Stockton said. "He beat a guy who beat him pretty badly last year, and he just annihilated him today. That's a good sign because we need John to step it up for us over the rest of the season."

Cav freshman Michael Duquette downed Brad Kilgore 6-4, 6-3 at No. 6. Duquette, a strong doubles player, is beginning to solidify his spot in the singles lineup following the ankle injury sustained by 6-foot-7 junior Robert Abendroth.

For a team that is used to playing outdoors, Virginia thrived on the change in conditions after the match was moved indoors.

"The courts are a little faster inside," Stockton said. "Outside the wind was blowing 20 to 25 mph and wind is a great equalizer. When you get inside and you get a little bit of confidence, it just kind of steamrolls through your game."

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    "This was the first time this year where everyone was just really playing well," Montgomery said. "Hopefully, it's better late than never. If we play well at the end, we will definitely make NCAAs. Our seed won't be as high as we wanted, but we'd rather have a crappy beginning and then a great ending"