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Virginia men’s tennis falls in ITA Semifinals to Ohio State

After winning against two other nationally-ranked teams, the Cavaliers fell short at redeeming themselves from their recent loss against the Buckeyes

<p>The Cavaliers still have time to progress and work before they enter NCAA Championship play.</p>

The Cavaliers still have time to progress and work before they enter NCAA Championship play.

No. 6 Virginia men’s tennis traveled to New York to compete in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship, opening play Friday. While the Cavaliers (8-4, 0-0 ACC) managed to advance to the quarterfinals after defeating No. 15 Duke and later to the semifinals after defeating No. 7 Tennessee, they ultimately fell to No. 1 Ohio State Sunday and failed to make it to the Championship faceoff. 

Match 1 — Virginia 4, Duke 1

Virginia opened play Friday with its first matchup of the tournament by facing the Blue Devils (7-3, 0-0 ACC). The Cavaliers had an explosive start by winning the doubles point 6-3 on both the top court and court three. Court two was also going in favor of Virginia before play was abandoned.

Duke quickly recovered though, and initially dominated in singles play — winning four of the first six sets. However, the Cavaliers noted that these sets hadn’t resulted in any points for the game yet and knew to keep hitting them hard. Senior Chris Rodesch and freshman Dylan Dietrich each closed out their individual matches in straight-set victories to pull Virginia up 3-0. 

The Blue Devils fired back with a straight-set victory of their own on court six, making the score 3-1, but Virginia was dominating on the rest of the courts still in play. Senior Iñaki Montes de la Torre and senior Jeffrey von der Schulenburg both were in their third sets of their matches after each forced a deciding set. Von der Schulenburg ended up finishing his match before Montes by winning the clinching point 6-3 to secure the victory for the Cavaliers and advance them to the Quarterfinals match against Tennessee.

Quarterfinals — Virginia 5, Tennessee 1

After defeating Duke, Virginia prepared to face Tennessee (8-3, 0-0 SEC) Saturday, its fourth top-10 matchup of the season. As doubles play opened, the Cavaliers struggled to have as dominant of a start as they did against Duke — which can be attributed to the Volunteers’ much higher ranking than the Blue Devils’.

Tennessee won the first doubles match on court two 6-1, but senior Alex Kiefer and Dietrich fought back on court three and won 6-1 — their second doubles win of the weekend. The first point of the game came down to the doubles matchup on the top court — with von der Schulenberg and  Rodesch forcing a tiebreaker after winning the second set. Unfortunately, the Volunteers took the deciding match and therefore the first point, making the score 1-0.

As singles play opened, the matches continued to be close with both teams fighting for every point in the set. Dietrich was the first to finish his match and got the Cavaliers on the scoreboard, tying up the match 1-1. He defeated No. 16 Tennessee junior Shunsuke Mitsui, making this Dietrich’s highest-ranked victory of his collegiate career so far.

Montes was the next to finish, winning on court three with two 6-3 sets and helping Virginia pull ahead 2-1. Although Dietrich and Montes both had definitive victories on their courts, the final three singles matches all were forced to go into a third set that would determine the outcome.

Although the final three matches were close, all of them ended up going in favor of the Cavaliers, making the final score of the game 5-1. Rodesch clinched the victory point for Virginia, and von der Schulenberg finished closely after to widen the gap a little more before play ended. The Cavaliers then looked towards their next faceoff against Ohio State, which would be their hardest matchup yet. 

Semifinals — Virginia 0, Ohio State 4

After having built momentum the past two games, Virginia felt it was ready to redeem itself against the Buckeyes (12-0, 0-0 SEC) after having lost to them Feb. 2. In order to advance to the championship match, the Cavaliers knew they would have to end Ohio State’s win streak and clinch the victory.

As doubles play opened, the matches were close. Graduate students Edoardo Graziani and James Hopper had a 6-2 win on court two, but Rodesch and von der Schulenburg lost on the top court, tying the game. Montes and Dietrich forced a tiebreaker on court three, but the Buckeyes won the deciding set and took the doubles point, making the initial score 1-0.

After the doubles matches, Ohio State continued the momentum and earned two more points by winning on courts five and six. However, the rest of the singles matches were much closer, and it became harder to tell whether or not the Buckeyes could hold the lead to win.

In the end, Ohio State won the clinching point when senior JJ Tracy defeated Montes on court three 6-3 and 6-4 — allowing the Buckeyes to advance to the championship matchup. Although the Cavaliers lost, Coach Andres Pedroso was proud of how hard they fought against multiple nationally-ranked teams. He believes that they will continue to improve and learn from hard losses such as this one.

“This team knows how to evolve, transform and improve through the process of a college tennis season,” Pedroso said. “Our fourth years are leading the charge. We left it all out there in NYC, and as long as our guys continue to do that in our training and competitions, we will continue to progress. I’m proud of our Wahoos!”

It’s important to note that in comparison to the most recent season, Virginia did not advance to the Semifinals of the 2023 ITA Indoor National Team Championship, yet they still ended up becoming the National Champions. While this matchup shows that Ohio State is going to continue to be a challenging opponent for Virginia, the Cavaliers still have time to progress and work before they enter NCAA Championship play. 

Virginia will be returning home for its next matchup, hosting Wake Forest (9-3, 0-0 ACC) to open conference play March 1 at 3 p.m.


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