No. 5 men’s tennis defeats No. 12 Stanford to move on to the NCAA Elite Eight

The Cavaliers now head to Orlando to face reigning national champion No. 4 Wake Forest

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Freshman William Woodall helped clinch the doubles point for Virginia. 

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

After only dropping one match through the first and second rounds of NCAA Tournament play, the No. 5 Virginia men’s tennis team (24-4, 10-2 ACC) hosted the Charlottesville Super Regional against No. 12 Stanford (19-7, 5-3 Pac-12) Saturday. The Cavaliers last faced the Cardinals in their first match of the 2019 ITA Men’s Team Indoor Championship in Chicago, where Virginia emerged victorious 4-2. 

The teams started with doubles play at the Snyder Tennis Center with Virginia securing the doubles point thanks to strong performances by the No. 33 partnership in senior Henrik Wiersholm and freshman Brandon Nakashima as well as the partnership in sophomore Gianni Ross and freshman William Woodall. 

However, as singles play started with first-set wins by No. 3 junior Carl Soderlund in the first position and No. 82 freshman Brandon Nakashima in the second position, rain hit the Snyder Tennis Center, forcing the two teams to move their matches to Boar’s Head Sports Club. 

At the new location, Stanford was able to secure wins in the number four and number five positions thanks to senior Sameer Kumar and sophomore Timothy Sah, respectively, as Virginia found itself 2-1 down against the surging Cardinals. 

A straight-set win by senior captain Aswin Lizen in the number six position tied the two teams back up at two, but matches in the number one and number two positions both headed to decisive third-sets. 

In the second position, Nakashima faced No. 63 freshman Alexandre Rotsaert in a close battle of two rising stars for the two teams. However, Nakashima showed poise and emerged victorious in the third and final set, 6-3, putting the Cavaliers up 3-2. 

At the same time, Soderlund, who faced No. 13 sophomore Axel Geller, found himself reeling from losing a 5-0 lead against Geller in the second set. Soderlund refocused in the third set and defeated Geller with a convincing 6-1 win in the final set to send the Cavaliers to the Elite Eight for the 14th time in the last 15 years. 

Virginia now plays No. 4 Wake Forest (32-3, 12-0, ACC) in the Elite Eight — a team that the Cavaliers went 1-2 against this past season. The most recent match between the two heavyweights resulted in a 4-2 win for the Demon Deacons in the ACC Championship. The match is scheduled for noon Thursday at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla. 

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