​Men’s tennis captures second consecutive NCAA title

spmtenchampionscourtesyvirginiaathletics

Coming into the NCAA Tournament as the nation’s top-ranked team and the presumptive favorite to win the national championship, the Virginia men’s tennis team was brimming with confidence. However, having just lost in the ACC Tournament finals to Wake Forest, the Cavaliers would need to right some inconsistencies if they were to secure a second-straight national title. In the end, the Cavaliers succeeded on all fronts and, in a rematch of last year’s final, defeated Oklahoma, 4-1.

Getting to the final required a fair amount of work, but Virginia was up to the challenge. The Cavaliers dismantled No. 9 Florida (21-7), 4-0, in the quarterfinals and also swept a team they lost to in the regular season, No. 13 California (21-7), in the semifinals.

The final pitted No. 1 Virginia (30-4) against No. 11 Oklahoma (20-11) Tuesday at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla., thus giving the Sooners a slight home court advantage. It was of no consequence to the Cavaliers, however, as they continued their exceptional tournament play.

To start off the match, the Cavaliers captured the all-important double point as Virginia won at both No. 1 and No. 3, 7-5 and 6-1, respectively.

Coming into singles play with the confidence boost from winning the doubles point, the Cavaliers were ready to get out and repeat as champions. Coach Brian Boland understood the anxiousness, but preached the importance of composure to his team before they took the singles court.

The first match ended with junior J.C. Aragone defeating Oklahoma junior Florin Bragusi 6-3, 6-4 at No. 5 on the ladder to give the Cavaliers a commanding 2-0 lead. Virginia twisted the knife even further as junior Thai-Son Kwiatkowski took down Oklahoma sophomore Spencer Papa 6-4, 6-4 at the No. 3 spot to send the Cavaliers up 3-0.

Virginia senior Ryan Shane was then defeated at No. 1 to give the Sooners hope at a comeback, but, with sophomores Collin Altamirano and Alexander Ritschard’s games unfinished, sophomore Henrik Wiersholm’s 6-2, 7-6 victory over Oklahoma freshman Andre Biro clinched the title for the Cavaliers, 4-1.

It would be hyperbolic to say the Cavaliers overcame the odds and endured a tumultuous season. However, Virginia’s season was not without its share of trials, as the team lost some games it should not have and failed to clinch the ACC Tournament championship.

On the way to the program’s third national championship in four years, the Cavaliers underwent some struggles, but this is not a Cinderella story in which the Cavaliers overachieved to capture the title. This team was always talented enough to achieve what they have. It took talent, coaching, preparation and heart, but Virginia put it together, playing its best tennis at the end of the season to secure a repeat title and end its season in elation.

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