Virginia upends top-ranked Oklahoma, wins second NCAA Championship

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Senior captain Mitchell Frank falls to his knees after clinching the match against Oklahoma's Andrew Harris.

After falling to top-ranked Oklahoma in the heart of the regular season, the Virginia men’s tennis team flipped the script Tuesday in the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship finals.

Once again, the No. 3 Cavaliers — who suffered a 4-3 defeat against the Sooners (29-3, 4-1 Big 12) March 10 in Norman, Oklahoma — grabbed the doubles point. But this time, Virginia (29-3, 12-0 ACC) also prevailed in singles.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the players,” coach Brian Boland said. “They have bought in to being a true team and the culture was tremendous. It has been a great journey with this group, and I am so glad we could end this season with a championship.”

The Cavaliers raced out to a 3-1 lead at the Hurd Tennis Center in Waco, Texas, holding on when senior captain Mitchell Frank broke Oklahoma sophomore Andrew Harris late in the second set of their No. 2 singles match for a 4-1 Virginia victory.

Frank also clinched Virginia’s 2013 national championship — the first in program history — with a three-set comeback against UCLA’s Adrien Puget.

“It is very special to not only win two championships, but to be able to clinch two championships,” Frank said. “It is an incredible feeling to be able to go out on top.”

Frank’s victory finished the Sooners, but his teammates set up the fireworks.

At No. 1 doubles, sophomore Luca Corinteli and junior Ryan Shane — the nation’s second-ranked tandem — downed No. 57 Harris and sophomore Alex Ghilea, 8-4.

No. 42 junior Mac Styslinger and sophomore Thai-Son Kwiatkowski posted an 8-5 win at No. 2 doubles, as did sophomore J.C. Aragone and freshman Collin Altamirano at No. 3.

Then came the singles, and the Cavaliers hardly blinked.

In a battle of freshmen, Oklahoma’s Spencer Papa evened the match with a 6-3, 6-2 win against Virginia’s Alexander Ritschard.

But Altamirano and Kwiatkowski put the Cavaliers in front with victories at Nos. 3 and 4 singles, and Frank closed the deal.

Virginia became the sixth men’s tennis program — along with USC, Stanford, UCLA, Georgia and William & Mary — to win multiple national championships.

The Cavaliers — who defeated regular-season tormentor No. 2 Baylor in Monday’s semifinals — also gave Virginia athletics a second national title in a single academic year for the third time, since the Virginia men’s soccer team won an NCAA Championship in December.

Frank received NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship Most Outstanding Player honors. Shane and Altamirano also made the all-tournament team in singles, while two Virginia duos — Kwiatkowski and Styslinger; Altamirano and Aragone — earned all-tourney recognition in doubles.

The individual national championships begin Wednesday in Waco.

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