Virginia versus Duke
The No. 6 Virginia men’s tennis team kicked off the weekend with a 4-0 victory against Duke, remaining undefeated at the Virginia Tennis Facility at Boar’s Head Resort. The Cavaliers (15-2, 9-0 ACC) earned their ninth straight win and stayed unbeaten in conference play with the win against the Blue Devils (7-7, 3-3 ACC).
The doubles matches were competitive to start off the match. Virginia freshmen Jeffrey von der Schulenburg and Iñaki Montes took another win in doubles with a 6-3 win on court three against Duke’s own freshman duo Andrew Dale and Faris Khan. On court two, junior Ryan Goetz and freshman Chris Rodesch earned the double point for the Cavaliers with a competitive 6-4 victory against senior Luca Keist and senior Edu Guell.
In singles, junior William Woodall gave Virginia a 2-0 lead with a 6-2, 6-3 victory against Dale on court six. Goetz followed with a 6-1, 6-4 victory against Keist on court five. Rodesch clinched the team victory with a clutch deuce point to break Edu Guell’s serve to finish off a 6-4, 6-4 win on court three and the win for the Cavaliers.
Duke came in ranked at No. 36 in this week’s ITA team rankings and offered the Cavaliers additional confidence heading into their match against No.1 North Carolina.
Montes and Schulenburg continue to find ways to win doubles as they are 11-2 on the season with wins in their last eight completed matches. Goetz continues his hot streak in the ACC, remaining perfect with a 7-0 record in the ACC. It was also nice to see Woodall earn his first singles win of the season after only having one start that was left uncompleted against Florida State.
It was evident that, although this was a great win, everyone was looking towards the highly anticipated match against the top-ranked team in the country in North Carolina.
“We still have work to do but for this time of year the guys are competing well … we’ve got a tough battle against UNC on Sunday,” Associate Head Coach Scott Brown said following the victory.
The Cavaliers have had a grueling period of competition especially with weekend matches.
The team has bought into the importance of just focusing on the next match and sustaining that mindset to maintain their impressive winning streak.
“Focusing on that is what’s really important,” Brown said when addressing the North Carolina match on Sunday.
Virginia entered Sunday with a perfect record in the ACC and a meeting with the top team in the conference.
Virginia versus North Carolina
The Cavaliers downed No. 1 North Carolina in impressive fashion 6-1 on the indoor courts of the Boar’s Head Sports Club. It was a dominant outing against the top team in the country as Virginia won the double point and led 5-0 before the Tar Heels (15-2,5-1 ACC) picked up a single point in the match.
It didn’t look that way in the start, as Virginia dropped their first doubles game with senior Mac Kiger and senior Simon Soendergarrd defeating Goetz and Rodesch 6-3. Schulenburg and Montes evened it up with a 6-4 win against sophomore Rinky Hijikata and senior Benjamin Sigouin on court three.
The doubles point would be decided on court one in a crucial tie-breaker as graduate student Carl Soderlund and Woodall defeated senior William Blumberg and junior Brian Cernoch 7-2 in the tie-breaker that provided a huge spark of confidence for the Cavaliers.
The doubles point would be the start of a downward spiral for the Tar Heels as Virginia would earn a 2-0 lead minutes into singles play as Hijikata sustained an injury and would have to retire from his match against Schulenburg on court two.
Goetz made it 3-0 for the Cavaliers with a 6-2, 6-3 victory against Soendergaard on court five.
It was a race for the match clincher between two freshmen — Rodesch and Montes. Rodesch completed his 6-2, 6-3 victory on court three against Sigouin ahead of Montes’ 6-2, 6-4 victory against Cernoch on court four. On court six, Soderlund defeated Blumberg in a super tiebreaker, taking it 7-3 to close out the match at 6-1 in favor of Virginia.
After the win, the Cavaliers are now 9-0 in the ACC and sit alone in first place in the conference. North Carolina had been the No. 1 team in the ITA rankings since winning the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in February, so this match offered Virginia a taste of revenge as it had lost to this same team at the indoor championship.
It was a great weekend for Rodesch as he clinched both victories for the Cavaliers this weekend. Goetz remains undefeated in ACC singles play, and the No. 3 doubles duo Montes and Schulenburg earned their ninth straight win.
“There was great composure, great energy today … working together with great communication across the board. Overall, a great team effort,” Coach Andres Pedroso said.
The Cavaliers had recently dropped in the national rankings from No. 4 to No. 6 despite having a seven-game win streak. It is reasonable to believe that this team will eclipse their season-high No. 4 rank and potentially earn the top spot in the country with less than a month before postseason play.
“We knew we could play with anyone, this just kind of solidifies that rankings don’t really mean anything,” Pedroso said after being asked what it meant to face the No. 1 team in the country.
Virginia will wrap up a seven-match homestand by hosting Virginia Tech for their annual Senior Day celebration this Thursday at 3 p.m.