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Cavaliers head to Challenger of Dallas

Fresh victories at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Kick-Off last weekend, the No. 1 Virginia men’s tennis team will send four players to compete in the Challenger of Dallas tournament this weekend. The tournament provides an opportunity for a few Cavaliers to take a swing against some of the best internationally ranked professional players on the ATP tour.

The players scheduled to participate in the event are senior co-captain Jarmere Jenkins, junior co-captain Alex Domijan, sophomore Mitchell Frank and freshman Mac Styslinger. Each of the participating players must advance through a preliminary qualifying round to earn a spot in the main event.

The Challenger of Dallas features steeper competition than Virginia (2-0) normally sees in NCAA play.

“Hopefully we don’t lose everything,” Domijan said. “I think it’ll be good just to get out, play some matches to keep it up. I think the more matches we get, the better.”

Domijan, who was named a 2011 and 2012 All-American for singles, is currently ranked No. 2 in the ITA singles rankings and No. 8 in the ITA doubles rankings, and was recently named co-captain for the 2013 season.

“I’d say it’s probably about increased responsibility as far as what you do off the court,” Domijan said when asked about the makings of a captain. “You know, practice a little extra with some of the freshmen, giving advice as the season goes on — it could make an impact.”

Domijan’s co-captain, Jenkins, is carrying that same positive attitude on and off the court. In addition to being named 2012 ACC Player of the Year, 2012 All-American for singles and doubles and serving as captain for the second consecutive season, Jenkins is currently ranked No. 4 in ITA singles and doubles rankings. Those impressive accolades — along with his impressive performance in the tournament play last year — make Jenkins’ showing in Dallas this weekend highly anticipated.

Styslinger, who is Jenkins’ doubles partner, is ranked No. 7 in the ITA singles rankings. He is part of a trio of talented freshmen on this year’s roster that also includes Ryan Shane and Harrison Richmond.

“[Styslinger’s] got a real solid game to work with” Domijan said. “I think collectively as a freshmen group, it’s one of the best we’ve had in a long time.”

Much of the spotlight for the Challenger of Dallas tournament, however, lies on the shoulders of Frank. After recovering from a torn meniscus, Frank played for the first time since last July in last week’s ITA Kick-Off matches against North Florida and Arkansas.

“I think he was really nervous before Friday’s match,” Domijan said, “It was hard. He couldn’t play a match at all [before]. I think the matches overall are always a positive thing at this point in the season.”

After missing out on the fall season, Frank competed strikingly last weekend, winning both his matches with ease.

Frank’s victories were among many strong showings for the Cavaliers at the ITA Kick-off Weekend as Virginia secured a ninth straight appearance in the ITA’s National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle next month. That opportunity is crucial because it provides the Cavaliers with a chance to play against the type of quality opponent they will see when the spring season opens in early March.

“I think if we get a solid performance overall by everybody getting increased exposure to higher level of competition — [I] think it’ll be a success,” Domijan said.

The Challenger of Dallas tournament kicks off this Saturday.