It was an exciting weekend for Virginia men’s tennis. Having to battle back in multiple matches, the Cavaliers (21-2, 12-0 ACC) earned the ACC Championship title and finished off a perfect season in the conference.
Quarterfinals — Georgia Tech
Virginia started off the tournament matched up against Georgia Tech in the quarterfinals. Coming off a close victory against Miami, the Yellow Jackets (13-9, 7-7 ACC) almost played spoiler as the match remained close with a 4-3 victory for the Cavaliers.
From the start, it was clear that Georgia Tech was not going to be an easy out for the Cavaliers. The Yellow Jackets and Virginia split decisions on courts two and three leaving the doubles point to be decided on court one. Graduate student Carl Söderlund and junior William Woodall were edged in a 7-4 tiebreaker against a pair of freshmen in Marcus McDaniel and Andres Martin.
Singles went back and forth with Virginia winning on courts one, four and five, while Georgia Tech responded with two points on courts six and three, knotting the score up to 3-3 going into the final singles match.
On court two, freshman Jeffrey von der Schulenburg won his first set 6-4 against Martin. However, Martin took the second set 6-3 and had a 3-0 lead in the third with three games away from knocking off Virginia and ending the perfect season in conference play.
Schulenburg had his grittiest performance of the year, saving the season for his team as he broke Martin’s serve and won in a tight tie-breaker 7-5 to allow Virginia to win 4-3 and move onto the semifinals.
“The Yellow Jackets took it to us today and nearly got us,” Coach Andres Pedroso said. “[It was an] incredible come from behind win for the Wahoos and we live to fight another day.”
Semifinals — NC State
The inspiring play of Schulenburg would be contagious as the Cavaliers’ momentum helped them cruise past their next opponent, defeating NC State 4-0 on Saturday.
Virginia shook off the close quarter final match against Georgia Tech to dominate the semifinal showdown against the Wolfpack (11-8, 7-3 ACC). Attacking early, Söderlund and Woodall defeated senior Tadas Babelis and junior Yannai Barkai 6-1, while junior Ryan Goetz and freshman Chris Rodesch won 6-4 against sophomore Robin Catry and fifth-year Alexis Galarneau to earn the doubles point.
It looked as if the Cavaliers learned their lesson from the quarterfinals, winning three straight singles matches in straight sets with freshman Iñaki Montes de la Torre clinching the victory on court three.
With a win in the semifinals, Virginia set its sights on the program’s 13th ACC Tournament title and a first ACC title under Pedroso.
Finals — North Carolina
In order to do so, the Cavaliers faced off against North Carolina in the ACC title game. It was a battle between the two powerhouses of the conference, and it did not disappoint with No. 6 Virginia defeating No. 4 North Carolina (19-3, 9-2 ACC) 4-3 to win the title.
The Tar Heels were able to get back one of their two starters from injury in senior Josh Peck for the championship game against the Cavaliers.
From the beginning, it was evident Virginia was going to have to fight and grind it out if it wanted the title victory. After an even split in two of the double matches, Peck and senior Benjamin Sigouin defeated Schulenburg and Montes in doubles 7-6 as a result of a 7-4 tiebreaker, giving the Tar Heels the early lead.
To start singles, North Carolina looked to have a chance to run away with the match as junior Brian Cernoch defeated Schulenburg 6-0, 6-2 to give North Carolina a 2-0 advantage.
Virginia responded with wins by Söderlund and senior Gianni Ross on courts one and six, respectively, tying the match up at two apiece. With decisions split on courts three and five, the score was tied up at 3-3 with court four being the deciding court in the match.
Montes was the hero for the Cavaliers, defeating senior Simon Soendergaard 6-2, 6-4 to give Virginia their first title since 2017.
It was only fitting to finish off an exciting ACC weekend with a great title game. Virginia is the only ACC team to win the ACC title at the Rome Tennis Center, winning when it was first held there in 2017 as well. Söderlund also earned his second ACC title of his career.
With a win on Sunday, the Cavaliers will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in May. The Cavaliers are now winners of 15 straight matches, and they will look to continue their remarkable season as they head into the NCAA Tournament.