In a showdown Saturday between two giants in men’s tennis, Virginia took on Ohio State in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers (7-2, 0-0 ACC) fought hard until the end but were ultimately overwhelmed by the No. 1 ranked Buckeyes (11-0, 0-0 Big Ten), who continue to dominate their opponents. Falling by a score of 4-1, Virginia moved to 1-2 against ranked opponents on the year, with those two losses coming against top five opponents.
As they have done all season long, the Cavaliers came out strong, securing the crucial doubles point. The duo of junior Chris Rodesch and graduate student Bar Botzer won the important first match 6-4. Following them, junior Iñaki Montes and graduate student Ryan Goetz delivered a down-to-the-wire 7-5 victory to give Virginia a 2-0 record on doubles courts and an early 1-0 lead in the match.
However, the momentum created on doubles courts did not translate to the singles matches. Freshman Måns Dahlberg fell in the first match, 3-6, 4-6, giving the Buckeyes an early upper hand. Goetz followed him, falling 5-7, 4-6 in his match to put Virginia in a 2-1 hole.
Needing to right the ship and gain back crucial points, the Cavaliers continued to fight. Junior Alexander Kiefer fell down a set early in his match, and it looked like Virginia would drop another point. However, Kiefer delivered a 6-2 win in the second set, keeping their hopes alive but fell in the third set, 3-6, meaning the Buckeyes just needed one more point to win.
That point came in the next singles match, where Rodesch fell in another three-set thriller, after taking the first set 6-3.
Although being swept in singles matches after securing the doubles points has to sting for Virginia, the silver lining is that Montes and fellow junior Jeffrey von der Schulenberg had their singles matches go unfinished. Both of them, who are two of Virginia’s best players, were well on their way to securing their matches. Unfortunately for Virginia, their matches were set to finish last, and the momentum swung to Ohio State early.
The undefeated Buckeyes are likely the best team Virginia will play in the regular season, so a loss — even at home — is not the end of the world. The Cavaliers do not play a ranked team for the rest of the year, so there is a good chance that this was the last real test until the NCAA Tournament begins in May.
Up next for the Cavaliers is a trip to Chicago for the ITA National Team Indoors tournament. The event will begin Friday.