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Cavaliers top Vols to take Indoor crown

Squad captures title for third consecutive year, as home fans cheer Courtney to decisive singles win

The Virginia men's tennis team captured the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Indoor title for the third year in a row yesterday, defeating Tennessee 4-1 at the Boar's Head Sports Club.

The Cavaliers won the match in the end but started off slowly, losing the doubles point to Tennessee within the first hour. The Volunteers grabbed both the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles spots, winning 8-1 and 8-2 and handing Virginia its first loss in the doubles point since the match against Kentucky Feb. 6. Boland realigned the team's pairings heading into the weekend, but Tennessee's decisive wins indicate that the Cavaliers still haven't found their marks.

"[The Volunteers] were clearly better at doubles," No. 3 junior Michael Shabaz said. "But we knew it was only one point."

Despite the early setback, Virginia came entered the singles matchups, hoping to regain control as swiftly as possible.

Senior Houston Barrick topped Matteo Fago 6-2, 6-4 at the No. 5 spot, and senior Lee Singer defeated Davey Sandgren 6-2, 7-5 at No. 6. Shabaz then edged No. 2 John-Patrick Smith at the No. 1 position, 6-4, 6-4.

The Cavaliers needed only one more win to take the championship, and that victory ultimately came off the racket of sophomore Drew Courtney at No. 4.

Courtney quickly captured the first set 6-3, but Tennys Sandgren rallied and won the second by the same margin.

Courtney broke Sandgren during the third and found himself up 5-3. Sandgren then served to stay in the match but quickly fell behind love-40. With Virginia only one point away from the championship, the home fans erupted.

"I just tried to focus on controlling what I could control," Courtney said of the point. "I was definitely feeding off the energy of the fans ... I was on another planet."

Boland too praised the support from dedicated Cavalier fans who came in droves to the tournament, particularly for Virginia's Saturday match against Georgia.

"They give us such a huge boost," Boland said. "Our fans are the best in college tennis."

Courtney went on to win that final point, and junior Sanam Singh, who was tied at 6-4, 5-7 with Boris Conkic at No. 2 and freshman Jarmere Jenkins, who fell even with Rhyne Williams 5-7, 6-4, 1-1 at No. 3, suspended play with the championship already in hand.

In spite of the victory, however, the Cavaliers still face questions about the strength of their doubles lineup.

Though they dropped only one doubles match during the preliminary rounds of the tournament, Tennessee's pairings blew by the Cavaliers at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots.

"It's just going to take a little bit more time," Boland said of the new lineup. "If we can emphasize our doubles teams, then we become much more scary as a team to beat."

During the first round, the Cavaliers swiftly topped No. 15 Alabama 4-0, sweeping the doubles point and winning three singles matches at the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 spots.

Next, Virginia pounded No. 7 Georgia during the quarterfinal round, again winning 4-0. The squad also put marks in the win column at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles and at the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 singles spots.

During the semis, Virginia trounced No. 3 Ohio State 4-1, falling only at No. 1 singles No. 3 doubles.

Singh was awarded the ITA Tournament's Sportsmanship Award for his positive attitude and composure on the court throughout the weekend.

The team now looks to next weekend's matches against No. 34 LSU and Boston College, but only after taking a brief moment to take in their third ITA Indoor win.

"It still hasn't sunk in that we've done it again," Singh said.


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