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Virginia blanks Tech, improves to 14-0

Cavaliers shut out in-state rival 7-0 to remain perfect on the season

The Virginia men’s tennis team won its 96th consecutive conference match Thursday with a 7-0 demolition of No. 54 Virginia Tech. Though the Hokies could hardly be considered a serious threat to the top-ranked Cavaliers, a victory over their in-state rival was satisfying for the team nonetheless.

“We get pumped up to play Tech just because we’re Virginia Wahoos,” sophomore Mitchell Frank said, “We were definitely excited for this match.”

Virginia (14-0, 3-0 ACC) began the match by winning a marquee doubles matchup. No. 2 pair senior Jarmere Jenkins and freshman Mac Styslinger faced off against the Hokies’ (10-5, 2-2 ACC) only ranked doubles team of freshmen Amerigo Contini and Andreas Bjerrehus on the first court, but had little trouble dispatching the No. 20 pair 8-4.

On the second court, No. 9 junior Alex Domijan and Frank took an early 3-0 lead, but Hokie sophomore Hunter Koontz and senior Lucas Oliveira rallied to tie the score before winning the next game for a 4-3 lead. The match remained close, but Domijan and Frank triumphed 9-7, clinching the win for the Cavaliers. Shortly afterward, No. 31 junior Justin Shane and senior Julen Uriguen won another highly contested 8-6.

“In the beginning we were kind of sluggish,” Frank said, “Towards the end I felt like we needed to get the energy up. On our court it was a struggle to the end so I think we have to improve on that a little bit, but I think that the guys competed hard and that’s all you can ask for.”

The Cavaliers left no doubt about their dominance in singles play. No. 1 Domijan wasted no time in his 6-2, 6-0 dismantling of Oliveira at the No. 3 slot. Though he has only lost twice this season, Domijan has not been entirely pleased with his recent performance, and Thursday’s match marked an emphatic return to form for the 6-foot-7 junior.

“I think I played better than I did the last two matches,” Domijan said, “It’s good looking forward. I kind of lost my game over the previous five matches. I wasn’t playing very well at all, so hopefully I can keep this up.”

Shane finished next on the fifth court. After a close first set, he cruised through the second to top senior Trpimir Kujundzic 7-5, 6-1. Minutes later, No. 27 Frank clinched the win for Virginia at the No. 2 slot with a 6-1, 6-2 defeat of No. 81 Bjerrehus that included two consecutive aces in the second set. No. 16 Styslinger added another point by beating Koontz 6-3, 7-5 on the fourth court.

The last two matches to finish were considerably more dramatic, both going into third sets. Though the team’s victory had been sealed long before, Uriguen and No. 2 Jenkins continued to battle on the sixth and first courts, respectively.

“That’s what we pride ourselves on,” coach Brian Boland said of his players’ persistence. “If you’re going to wear the Virginia uniform, you give it everything you have. That’s something we talk about a great deal as a team, and they did a good job at the end of the match.”

Uriguen coasted through his first set against freshman Joao Monteiro before dropping the second. Emotions ran high in the third set on both sides of the net, but Uriguen prevailed 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 and headed to the first court to watch Jenkins’ showdown with No. 55 Contini.

When most of his teammates had begun their second sets, Jenkins was locked in a lengthy first set, which he ultimately lost 4-6. He then rallied to take the second and force a decisive third set. Jenkins remained composed to the end as Contini — the star of Virginia Tech’s roster — unraveled. Contini double faulted twice, hit into the net repeatedly and was handed a point penalty for his conduct. The set ended when he hit an easy forehand miles past the baseline as Jenkins prevailed 4-6, 7-5, 6-0.

The team now looks to ride its momentum into a match at Boston College (5-6, 0-2 ACC). The Cavaliers appear more than capable of cruising through the weekend against the Eagles, but Boland and his players remain focused on their larger goal of using each match as an opportunity for improvement.

“We want to keep getting better,” Boland said, “At each position we have an opportunity to do that. We have a chance to develop, and each player has to realize that what they do throughout the course of the competition is going to affect us long-term. That’s our focus and so far they’ve done a great job of that.”

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