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No. 22 men’s tennis opens the season with a dominant win over Liberty

The Cavaliers routed the Flames 7-0 in the first match of the season

<p>After an injury-riddled 2020 campaign, No. 29 graduate student Carl Soderlund got off to a hot start, winning his singles match in straight sets.&nbsp;</p>

After an injury-riddled 2020 campaign, No. 29 graduate student Carl Soderlund got off to a hot start, winning his singles match in straight sets. 

No. 22 Virginia opened the men’s tennis season indoors at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville on Sunday with a match against Liberty after the Cavaliers’ first match of the season against VCU, scheduled for Saturday, was canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the VCU program. The Cavaliers (1-0, 0-0 ACC), playing in their first match since a 7-0 sweep of William and Mary on March 11, 2020, defeated Liberty in resounding fashion in the season opener with a 7-0 sweep of the Flames (0-1, 0-0 Atlantic Sun). With their victory over the Flames, the Cavaliers improve to 10-0 all time versus Liberty. 

Virginia started the afternoon by securing the doubles point in two matches. The pairing of graduate student Carl Soderlund and junior William Woodall won their match easily 6-2 on the No. 1 doubles court. The pairing of freshman Inaki Montes de la Torre and freshman Jeffrey von der Schulenburg won its debut match 6-2 to clinch the doubles point for Virginia. The match was the first for both Montes and von der Schulenburg as Cavaliers, and the pair recorded a victory over Liberty junior Nicaise Muamba and redshirt freshman Thando Longwe-Smit on the No. 3 doubles court.

The Cavaliers also dominated the singles matches. Five of the matches were straight-set victories, giving the Cavaliers a 6-0 advantage over the Flames. Junior Ryan Goetz, freshman Chris Rodesch and senior Gianni Ross all recorded wins in their singles matches. Ross’ 6-3, 6-2 win over sophomore Zion Heaven clinched the victory for Virginia. 

No. 29 Soderlund began the season with an impressive straight-set victory over Muamba, who was named the Atlantic Sun Player of the Year in 2019. Soderlund, who was set back by injuries during the 2020 spring season, appears as though he will have a strong season for the Cavaliers.

In his singles debut for Virginia, von der Schulenburg defeated Liberty sophomore Josh Wilson in two sets, winning 6-1 in the first set and 6-2 in the second set. Von der Schulenburg entered the season ranked No. 106 in the singles rankings before his first college match. 

“I always heard that it’s super intense and it’s different from every other match and it really is,” von der Schulenburg said. “But I absolutely loved it and ... I’m super pumped to have ended it this way.”

Virginia finished the day with a 7-0 victory over Liberty. Montes defeated Liberty freshman Rafael Marques Da Silva in the most competitive matchup of the day. The match was tightly contested with Marques da Silva taking the first set 6-4 and Montes winning the second set 6-1. The final set was extremely close, with Montes coming back from a 0-4 deficit to win 7-6 to finish out an impressive outing for the Cavaliers. 

“I saw a great effort across the board. Doubles. Singles. Upperclassmen. First years.” Coach Andres Pedroso said. “Really great start to the season. Can’t ask for anything more.”

The Cavaliers return to action Friday as they travel to Columbus, Ohio to face the No. 3 Buckeyes in the opening round of the ITA Kickoff Weekend. Virginia will look to continue their early season success as they compete to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.