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Confident Virginia confronts ACC foes

Top team follows up on wins against N.C. State, Wake Forest with Clemson, Georgia Tech matches

After a three-match win weekend, No. 1 Virginia prepares to face No. 43 Clemson and No. 26 Georgia Tech on the road this weekend.

"It's our last two regular season matches before the ACC Tournament," junior Sanam Singh said. "We want to go into the ACCs with confidence." This past weekend, the Cavaliers defeated No. 50 North Carolina State Friday, as well as No. 23 Wake Forest and Hampton in a doubleheader Sunday at home.

"I think we're coming off a really good weekend which is only going to add to our confidence," coach Brian Boland said. "I think that momentum is going to help us as we go into this weekend, but ... we're going to have to be ready and play our best tennis."

With its recent wins in mind, the team is ready for Saturday's match against the top-ranked Yellow Jackets.

Boland noted that one of the challenges Georgia Tech presents is its strong lineup, which features No. 8 junior Guillermo Gomez, who plays in the top slot for the singles matchups.

"They've had a great year so far and they are undefeated at home and will certainly pose challenges for us," Boland said.

Virginia can hold its own, however, as its two top singles players are ranked in the top 20 Intercollegiate Tennis Association, as well. Singh is currently ranked No. 13, while junior Michael Shabaz is ranked No. 6. Shabaz will most likely face Gomez in singles.

Sunday, the Cavaliers will face off against Clemson, which Virginia has defeated with wide victory margins in recent play. During the past two seasons, the Cavaliers have taken down the Tigers 6-2 and then 6-1, respectively.

Similarly, Virginia holds an impressive advantage in its recent history with the Yellow Jackets. During both the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, Virginia beat the team 7-0. Last year, they defeated the Yellow Jackets again, this time with a 6-1 victory.

Both of last season's victories against Clemson and Georgia Tech took place on familiar territory for the Cavaliers. This weekend, however they are forced to deal with rival courts and fans.\nBut Singh said playing away from a home crowd actually helps to keep him focused.

"Sometimes it's almost better when we are playing on the road because that is all we're doing," Singh said. "All we're doing is thinking about the match."

Indeed, the team does not seem to be concerned about playing on courts that are not their own.

"Personally, I'm looking forward to this trip because we're taking a bus [as a team]," Singh said. "We always look forward to [match] road trips."

Following this weekend's match, Virginia will head to the ACC Tournament next weekend, which begins April 22 in Cary, N.C.. Before the commencement of the postseason, however, Boland refuses to allow his players to get too far ahead of themselves.

"Our first focus is this weekend," he said.

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