The No. 7 Virginia men’s tennis team (25-5, 12-0 ACC) advanced to its 15th quarterfinal in the last 17 NCAA Championships with a 4-0 victory over No. 10 South Carolina (23-7, 10-2 SEC) Friday. The Cavaliers have now won all of their NCAA Championship matches this year with the same score of 4-0 and will play No. 2 Florida (26-2, 12-0 SEC) in the quarterfinal.
Senior Gianni Ross and sophomore Jeffrey von der Schulenberg started doubles off with a 6-4 win, but graduate student Bar Botzer and sophomore Chris Rodesch fell on the top court 6-3 as the Gamecocks tied up the doubles point. However, Virginia eventually prevailed as sophomore Iñaki Montes de la Torre and senior Ryan Goetz claimed a 6-4 victory on court two, clinching the doubles point for the Cavaliers.
Now with a 1-0 lead in the match, Virginia was just beginning singles play outdoors when a rainstorm interrupted the match. After being moved to the indoor courts and enduring a delay in the match, the Cavaliers showed no loss of focus or momentum as they picked up three singles wins to close out the victory. Coach Andres Pedroso was very pleased with his team’s ability to refocus and readjust.
“There were some ups and downs. Going from outdoors to indoors is always challenging, but our guys were total pros out there,” Pedroso said. “So I’m proud of them. We competed until the end and played solid. Whatever came our way, we were ready for.”
Once indoors, Ross was the first to win his matchup, earning a 6-4, 7-5 victory on court five. He was followed by Goetz who, having already begun his first set outdoors before play was suspended, was able to finish off a 6-4, 6-1 win on court four.
Botzer earned the fourth point for Virginia to send the team to the quarterfinals. After dropping the first set of his matchup on court six, he was able to fight back for the next two and secure the win for the Cavaliers with a score of 2-6, 6-2, 6-2. After a very successful undergraduate career at Wake Forest, Botzer is excited to be able to have an impact on his new team’s success.
“Playing at [court] six and winning the point is exactly the same point as winning at [court] one, so I’m just happy that I’m able to help the team finally,” Botzer said. “I felt like it was at times really difficult for me to help the team, especially with wins, but I’ve always been playing my best tennis in May, and I hope that for this year as well.”
Next up, Virginia will have one of its most difficult tests of the season so far, as they match up with the Gators for a trip to the semifinals. Earlier this season, the Cavaliers lost to Florida by a score of 4-2. Both teams have yet to have a point scored on them in these NCAA Championships and this is setting up to be a heavyweight fight between these two conference champions.
The Cavaliers will look to get their revenge on the Gators Thursday at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in Champaign, Ill. A starting time for the match has yet to be announced.