The No. 3 Virginia men’s tennis team hosted the Indoor Tennis Association Weekend Kickoff Tournament in Charlottesville Saturday and Sunday. Sensing an opportunity for a crucial test against elite competition, the Cavaliers (5-1, 0-0 ACC) defeated Northern Arizona (3-2, 0-0 Big Sky) 4-1 Saturday and Florida Atlantic (5-1, 0-0 AAC) 4-0 Sunday to secure the single spot available that will allow them to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.
Match 1 — Virginia 4, Northern Arizona 1
Virginia opened its tournament play Saturday when it faced Northern Arizona for the right to advance onward to the ITA Kickoff Final. The Cavaliers defeated the Lumberjacks 4-1 thanks to three impressive singles victories and the earned doubles point.
Senior Iñaki Montes de la Torre and senior Alexander Kiefer opened the match with a 6-4 win on the No. 2 doubles court. To secure the doubles point, senior Jeffrey von der Schulenburg and sophomore Douglas Yaffa won 7-5 on court three.
With the score being 1-0, the Cavaliers knew to continue to hit Northern Arizona hard on the singles courts. Freshman Dylan Dietrich dominated on court one to make the score 2-0 thanks to a pair of 6-2 wins.
Graduate student James Hopper won 6-3, 6-0 on court five to help widen the gap even more before the Lumberjacks finally got on the scoreboard with a victory on court six. However, graduate student Edoardo Graziani didn’t allow for the game to get closer, as he clinched the winning point for Virginia with a 6-4, 6-3 victory on court three.
Match 2 — Virginia 4, Florida Atlantic 0
After a strong victory against Northern Arizona, the Cavaliers advanced to the ITA Kickoff Final Sunday to face off Florida Atlantic — a team that had yet to be defeated. Virginia’s recent hard-fought games against other highly ranked teams prepared them to fight for the chance to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.
Hopper and Graziani opened the match with a 6-3 win on the top doubles court — an impressive victory after having an unfinished match the day before against the Lumberjacks. The Cavaliers once again secured the doubles point after Florida Atlantic’s senior Joao Graca had to retire his doubles match on court three due to an injury.
In singles, Virginia had an impressive start and won five of six first sets — excluding sophomore Måns Dahlberg, who dropped his first set 3-6 but bounced back to take his second set 7-5. The Cavaliers’ momentum didn’t slow after the first sets, with their three singles wins all finishing within three minutes of one another. Graziani was the first to finish — securing his singles point 6-3, 6-3 on court four. Dietrich made the score 3-0 after powering through a tiebreaker.
On top of helping Virginia win the doubles point, Hopper clinched the game-winning point and closed out play with a 6-3, 7-5 victory on court six.
By defeating both teams, the Cavaliers secured one of the 16 slots in the field of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship being held the weekend of Feb. 16 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.
On top of this team victory, a handful of Virginia players were recently recognized by the ACC for their continued impressive performances. Senior Chris Rodesch was named ACC co-Player of the Week after taking down the 2023 ITA National Player of the Year and current top-ranked singles player Eliot Spizzirri in the Cavaliers’ recent matchup against Texas. Rodesch was also named ACC Doubles Team of the Week with Schulenburg after they went 2-0 and helped Virginia win the doubles points against both Texas and South Carolina.
Before they can go on the road to compete in the Championship, the Cavaliers must next face three other ranked teams. The first is rival No. 1 Ohio State on its home courts — the team Virginia defeated in the 2023 NCAA Final. Although the next few matches will be challenging, they will help ensure that Virginia stay fresh and prepared for the ITA Indoor Championship, a gauntlet full of the nation’s best teams.