Coming off a disappointing loss to Ohio State last weekend, No. 5 Virginia men’s tennis looked to regain some momentum as they traveled to Chicago, Ill. for the ITA Indoor Championships. The sixteen-team field included powerhouses such as Tennessee, Texas, Baylor, Michigan, Ohio State and host Illinois among others.
In the opening round of 16, the Cavaliers (8-4, 0-0 ACC) escaped with a narrow 4-3 win against the No. 12 Volunteers (8-4, 0-0 SEC). Unfortunately for Virginia, their run would come to an abrupt end in the quarterfinals, where they suffered a brutal defeat to the Wolverines (12-1, 0-0 Big Ten), 0-4. Hoping to walk away from the tournament on a positive note, Virginia was tasked with a rematch against the No. 2 Ohio State (14-1, 0-0 Big Ten). In tough fashion, the Cavaliers suffered a similar fate as they did in their earlier matchup, falling 0-4.
Round of 16 – Tennessee
The match did not start the way the Cavaliers would have hoped. After freshman Mans Dahlberg and junior Iñaki Montes de la Torre dropped the first doubles match 3-6, Virginia was in an early hole. Luckily for the Cavaliers, the pair of junior Chris Rodesch and graduate student Ryan Goetz won their match 6-4, forcing the doubles point to come down to the third match. In a tight contest, the junior duo of Jeffrey von der Schulenberg and Alexander Kiefer fell 4-6, and Virginia was down a point early.
On singles courts, Virginia fared much better. Rodesch, von der Schulenberg, and Dahlberg won the first three matches, meaning the Cavaliers just needed one of the remaining three matches to go their way. Tennessee won two of them, but Goetz came in clutch for Virginia, securing the win in a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 thriller. Virginia would win 4-3 and go on to play Michigan, who took down No. 13 Stanford in its first-round matchup.
Quarterfinals – Michigan
After coming off a close win against the Volunteers, Virginia hoped to maintain that level of success against the high-flying Wolverines team. However, the Cavaliers were given everything they could handle and more. It was an overwhelming victory for Michigan, who did not lose a match for the entire contest.
The Wolverines quickly secured the doubles point, as von der Schulenberg and Kiefer were first to lose 6-3. Just moments later, Montes and graduate student William Woodall also dropped their match to send Virginia down 1-0.
Not much changed on the singles courts, where Michigan only needed three matches against Montes, von der Schulenburg, and Dahlberg to secure the three remaining points. Virginia did have some success in winning sets, as both Rodesch and Goetz were up 1-0, but their matches failed to finish before three Michigan players took victories in straight sets.
Consolation – Ohio State
Even though the Cavaliers lost against Michigan, they still had a chance to even out a prior defeat by taking on Ohio State. Not only could they leave Chicago on a winning note, but they could do it against the No. 1 team in the country, a team that handed them a demoralizing defeat just a week ago.
Unfortunately, the consolation match proceeded very similarly to these teams’ first meeting with the Cavaliers losing 0-4. After Dahlberg and Montes dropped the first doubles match, 0-6, Kiefer and von der Schulenberg won 6-4 to give Virginia early hope. However, in the third match Rodesch and Goetz suffered a heartbreaking, 6-7 (3-7), defeat that gave the Buckeyes the early doubles point.
With the wind taken out of their sails at this point, Virginia did not fare well in singles matches. Rodesch, Kiefer, and von der Schulenberg went down in succession, and the Cavaliers suffered a 0-4 defeat in consecutive matches.
With the indoor portion of their season over, Virginia now turns toward conference play in a challenging league that includes five top-25 squads. The Cavaliers will be prepared for a rigorous schedule, however, especially considering the level of competition the team faced this past weekend.
Next, the Cavaliers will open up ACC play at home against Miami March 3, at 3 p.m.