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Cavaliers emphasize basics going into ITA tournament

Boland reshuffles doubles pairings as team hopes to find footing after loss

Following its first regular season loss since 2006 Saturday, the No. 2 Virginia men's tennis team now looks to reclaim its dominance at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Team Indoor Championship this weekend at the Boar's Head Sports Club in Charlottesville.\nVirginia will be joined by 15 other top teams in the country, including No. 1 USC, No. 4 UCLA, No. 7 Georgia and No. 13 Kentucky.\nThis will be the first time Charlottesville has hosted the tournament, and coach Brian Boland expressed his excitement about the prospect of playing on his team's courts.\n"It feels great," Boland said. "It's the best in the country ... And to bring all those teams into our home turf at one time and play the biggest tournament of the year ... is a tremendous honor for our program and a great opportunity for our fans."\nThe ITAs not only will be an ideal opportunity for local tennis fans to see the nation's best, but also will be an opportunity for the Cavaliers, who are itching to prove themselves following last Saturday's loss to Kentucky, which broke the team's 63-match regular season win streak.\nAfter the loss, Boland instituted a realignment of the team's doubles pairings in an attempt to pair more complementary styles together. This weekend, junior Sanam Singh will play with senior Lee Singer, junior Michael Shabaz with sophomore Drew Courtney and senior Houston Barrick with freshman Jarmere Jenkins.\n"We feel like if we get our doubles game up to where it should be, then we should be difficult to beat," said Shabaz, who will play with his third different partner of the season. "We're hoping that this could be last shift."\nApart from reworking the doubles tandems, the Cavaliers are preparing for the tournament by turning to a "back to basics" approach to the game: honing in on strokes, movement and core tactics - skills the players have developed since they first picked up rackets.\n"Just basic fundamentals," Shabaz said. "Usually, when things aren't going great in any sport, you always want to go back to the fundamentals."\nBoland added that the squad also will concentrate on taking things one contest at a time - particularly after last weekend's defeat - beginning first and foremost with No. 15 Alabama this Friday.\n"I'm looking forward to trying to beat Alabama," Boland said with a smile. "We really need to focus each and every moment of practice and be aware of what just happened this past weekend and make that an extremely motivating factor for us."\nAlthough the team's loss to Kentucky may have illuminated pressing weaknesses, it also seems to have made the Virginia men's tennis team even more hungry for success.\n"We like pressure," Singh said.


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