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Men's tennis seeks undefeated regular season

Cavaliers head to Florida for matches with FSU, Miami

After extending its ACC win streak to triple digits last weekend, the Virginia men’s tennis team aims for yet another milestone: an undefeated regular season. With two games left to play before the ACC Tournament, the Cavaliers want to finish strong and keep their momentum rolling into postseason play.

Virginia (19-0, 8-0 ACC) travels to Tallahassee to face Florida State (17-7, 4-4 ACC) for its second-to-last regular season game Friday. Last weekend, the Cavaliers defeated No. 24 Clemson and Georgia Tech at home by scores of 7-0 and 6-1 respectively to push their ACC win streak to 101 games. Last Saturday was also Senior Day, making the moment bittersweet.

“It was a very emotional weekend — a lot of tears were shed,” senior Julen Uriguen said. “It was hard to play my last senior match here, but it was a great weekend overall. I think getting 100 and 101 [wins] was great for the program.”

The Cavaliers know the ramifications of the big win streak. On top of their dominance in the ACC, they are the top-ranked team nationally. This makes Virginia the team to beat, but the Cavaliers are used to playing with extra pressure to succeed.

“We’ve been playing with a target on our back for 10 years,” head coach Brian Boland said. “At this point we’re used to it. We always get every team’s best effort, which is great. We just need to continue to embrace being the number one team.”

The players are proud of their perfect season so far, but understand that there is still work to be done. After Florida State, Virginia will play at Miami (13-10, 2-6 ACC) to conclude the regular season. Winning these remaining games will be important to prepare for the postseason tournaments, which begin just four days after the Cavaliers’ last regular season game.

“We’re just trying to work hard every single day to improve and prepare for the postseason,” Boland said. “The matches this weekend are another opportunity to improve and continue to work on each individual’s game.”

In particular, the Cavaliers are making it a point to focus on their fitness in the upcoming matches. The weather is much warmer than it was at the start of the season, and the team must adjust accordingly.

“It’s been a good opportunity for us to work in the heat, which is really important for our
transition into the postseason,” Boland said. “I believe the temperature has certainly helped us.”

Although Florida State is currently tied for sixth in the ACC, the Seminoles also boast a 13-2 record at home this season, and have won three of their last four. Revenge will be on the Seminoles’ minds during Friday’s game. Last year, the Cavaliers won 4-3 in Charlottesville, and then knocked the Seminoles out of the ACC Tournament with a 4-0 victory in the semifinals.

Whereas a win would help Florida State move up in the ACC standings, Virginia is trying to maintain a one game lead over Duke for first in the conference. There are two games left for each team, so the Cavaliers have not yet clinched the regular season title. Virginia does own the tiebreaker, as it beats Duke head-to-head this season.

A perfect regular season would be the team’s second in the last three seasons, and although it would certainly be a great achievement, the Cavaliers are trying to stay levelheaded as they head to Florida.

“It would be another great feat for the program, and it would definitely give us a lot of confidence to start the postseason strong,” Uriguen said. “Right now we’re just focusing on Miami and Florida State for this weekend, and we’re just hoping we can get it done and finish undefeated.”

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