No. 7 Virginia traveled to Champaign, Ill. over the weekend to compete in the ITA Division 1 National Team Indoor Championship. The Cavaliers (6-2, 0-0 ACC) topped No. 3 TCU 4-3 Friday to advance to the semifinals, but then dropped their first match of the season Saturday against No. 2 North Carolina 4-2 and finished the tournament Sunday with a loss to host Illinois in a consolation match.
Eight teams attended the tournament, with seven of the eight participating schools ranked in the top 10 nationally. The Cavaliers have captured the ITA National Team Indoor Championship title six times, trailing only Stanford and UCLA — with 12 and seven titles, respectively — for most team indoor titles.
The Cavaliers began the weekend by facing No. 3 TCU Friday at the Atkins Tennis Center. The Horned Frogs (7-2, 0-0 Big 12) jumped to an early lead over the Cavaliers by securing the doubles point. The pairings of sophomore Luc Fomba and junior Alastair Gray in the No. 1 doubles match and No. 24 sophomore Sander Jong and freshman Tadeas Paroulek in the No. 2 doubles match both won their matches by a score of 6-3.
Freshman Chris Rodesch tied the overall match score at one apiece with his dominant win over Paroulek, winning the first set 6-0 and the second set 6-1. After junior Ryan Goetz dropped his singles match in a second-set tiebreaker to freshman Tomas Jirousek and freshman Iñaki Montes de la Torre was defeated by No. 47 Fomba in three sets, the Cavaliers faced a 3-1 deficit in the match with TCU needing to win only one more singles match to clinch the victory.
However, No. 29 graduate student Carl Soderlund picked up a key point for Virginia with his win in three sets over No. 21 Gray. Soderlund lost the first set 4-6 before battling back to win the final two sets by scores of 6-3 and 6-4. On the No. 6 singles court, senior Gianni Ross defeated junior Juan Martin in a battle that came down to the final set with Ross winning 6-4 and bringing the overall score to a 3-3 tie.
The final singles match of the day between No. 106 Jeffrey von der Schulenburg and No. 113 Jong came down to the third set after von der Schulenburg won the first set 6-4 and Jong won the second set 7-5. Von der Schulenburg then completed the comeback for the Cavaliers, defeating Jong 6-4 in the final set to give Virginia the 4-3 victory and send the Cavaliers to the semifinal match versus North Carolina.
“This was a complete match by our team,” Coach Andres Pedroso said. “Credit to TCU for really playing well in doubles and putting our backs against the wall in singles. Our guys responded and never stopped believing. That match represented everything that is so exciting about college tennis. Both teams deserved to win.”
Virginia faced the No. 2 Tar Heels (5-0, 0-0 ACC) Saturday for the semifinal matchup at the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship. North Carolina handed the Cavaliers their first loss of the season, defeating Virginia 4-2.
Virginia started the match off strong, winning two out of three doubles matches to secure the doubles point. The pairing of Goetz and Rodesch won on the No. 2 doubles court 6-3 against No. 5 senior Mac Kiger and senior Simon Soendergaard. The Tar Heels then tied the score with a victory on the No. 1 doubles court with No. 6 senior William Blumberg and junior Brian Cernoch topping Soderlund and Woodall 6-4. Montes and von der Schulenburg then captured the doubles point for the Cavaliers with a 6-4 victory on court three.
The Cavaliers took a 2-0 overall advantage over North Carolina after von der Schulenburg defeated No. 41 senior Benjamin Sigouin with a straight set victory and a dominant performance in the second set, winning 6-0. The Tar Heels then answered with strong showings across the singles courts. Soendergaard and No. 55 sophomore Rinky Hijikata both won their singles matches in straight sets to tie the overall match score at 2-2.
Both Goetz and Rodesch rallied after losing their first sets to win their second set and force their respective matches into a third set. However, Goetz and Rodesch were both topped in the third set with Goetz losing to Cernoch and Rodesch losing to No. 100 senior Josh Peck. The pair of singles victories by Cernoch and Peck clinched the victory for North Carolina by an overall score of 4-2.
“The team fought hard and the Tar Heels were a bit better than us today,” Pedroso said. “They are a great team with a lot of experience and we are gaining experience by the day. I know our guys already have their focus geared towards tomorrow.”
After falling to North Carolina, Virginia faced Illinois Sunday afternoon in a consolation match. The Fighting Illini (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten) earned an automatic berth to the tournament as the host institution. Illinois defeated No. 1 Southern California 4-1 Friday before losing to No. 4 Baylor 0-4 Saturday, earning a place in the consolation match versus the Cavaliers.
On the doubles court, Virginia took the doubles point with dominant wins from the pairings of Soderlund and Woodall, who won 6-1, and Montes and von der Schulenburg, who won 6-2. In the singles matches, Rodesch defeated redshirt freshman Lucas Horve in straight sets 7-5, 6-3 to give Virginia a 2-0 lead over Illinois. Soderlund extended the Cavaliers’ lead to three after topping No. 15 Alex Brown in three sets.
Two straight set victories in a row for redshirt freshman Alex Bancilla and freshman Hunter Heck of Illinois narrowed the overall match score to 3-2 in Virginia’s favor. On the No. 2 singles court, Montes dropped his match after a tough battle against No. 82 sophomore Siphosothando Montsi. Montes won the first set 6-3 then dropped the second and third sets by scores of 4-6 and 5-7, respectively. No. 112 Zeke Clark then handed von der Schulenburg his first singles loss of the season in a three set win to clinch a 4-3 victory for Illinois over the Cavaliers.
“All the credit to Illinois. They played a great match,” Pedroso said. “Our guys, as always, fought to the bitter end. This team has a lot of heart and we never give up. It’s an honor to coach this team.”
Virginia returns to action Friday when it travels to Weymouth, Mass. to play Boston College for its first ACC match of the season. First serve is set for 3 p.m.