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No. 3 men’s tennis dominates both North Carolina and Duke in weekend road matches

The Cavaliers defeated the Tar Heels 4-2 Friday, and continued the momentum Sunday with a 6-1 victory over the Blue Devils

<p>The Cavaliers (12-4, 4-0 ACC) have yet to lose a conference matchup so far in the regular season.</p>

The Cavaliers (12-4, 4-0 ACC) have yet to lose a conference matchup so far in the regular season.

No. 3 men’s tennis downed two conference opponents on the road over the weekend — first defeating North Carolina 4-2 Friday evening then continuing the streak Sunday when it defeated No. 15 Duke 6-1. The Cavaliers (12-4, 4-0 ACC) have yet to lose a conference matchup so far in the regular season and continued that momentum with these two victories. 

Match 1 — Virginia 4, North Carolina 2

The Cavaliers arrived at the Chewning Tennis Center Friday to face North Carolina (9-4, 2-1 ACC). Senior Iñaki Montes de la Torre and freshman Dylan Dietrich were the first pair to finish their doubles match and won 6-3 on court three. 

Unfortunately, senior Chris Rodesch and senior Jeffrey von der Schulenburg struggled to take the lead on the top court and dropped their match 2-6, allowing the Tar Heels to tie up the opportunity for the first point of the face off. It came down to court two, where graduate student James Hopper and graduate student Edoardo Graziani fought to win the deciding match but lost 4-7. 

Going into singles play, the Cavaliers knew they’d have to tie up the game 1-1 then take the lead in order to go home with another conference victory. Rodesch helped Virginia quickly close the deficit by winning his singles match on the top court 6-3, 6-3.

The Tar Heels weren’t going to let go of their lead so easily though, as they pulled back ahead with a 6-2, 6-4 victory on court four against Schulenburg just one minute after Rodesch’s victory. However, that would be the last point they scored in the rest of the match.

Montes helped tie up the face off 2-2 with his 6-2, 6-2 victory on court two, and Dietrich soon followed after with a win of his own — helping the Cavaliers pull ahead 3-2 with a 6-2, 7-6 victory on court three.

Senior Alexander Kiefer clinched the win for Virginia with a hard-fought victory on court five. He had dropped his first set to North Carolina 3-6 but recovered in the second set to win it 6-2 — forcing a third set to break the tie. In his final set, Kiefer left no room for questioning who would win the match and dominated, winning the deciding set 6-0.

After defeating the Tar Heels 4-2, the Cavaliers began to look at their second and final match of the weekend, knowing they’d have to go back on the road to face yet another conference opponent, Duke.

Match 2 — Virginia 6, Duke 1

Virginia arrived at the Ambler Tennis Stadium in Durham, N.C. ready to face off against the Blue Devils (11-7, 3-2 ACC). Despite the windy weather that can make playing outside difficult, the Cavaliers were prepared to maintain the momentum they had achieved Friday evening.

Play started off similarly to Virginia’s match with North Carolina, with the doubles point coming down to the last court playing for a tiebreaker. Montes and Hopper were defeated 4-6 on the top court, but Dietrich and Kiefer won their match 7-5 on court three. Rodesch and Schulenburg won their match on court two 7-3, breaking the tie to clinch the doubles point for the Cavaliers. 

As singles play opened, some of the matches quickly picked up pace while others indicated that competition was evenly matched and would require serious endurance in order to win. Rodesch jumped out to a quick lead on court two, winning his first set 6-3 and leading his second set while many of the other courts were still in the initial points of the first set. 

Unsurprisingly, Rodesch was the first to finish and won in straight sets — 6-3, 6-2 — to give Virginia its second point of the game. He made sure to keep calm and won all of his breakpoints in the second set, ensuring that there wouldn’t need to be a tiebreaker. 

Schulenburg was the next to finish and also won in straight sets 6-4, 6-3. Although the Cavaliers were now leading 3-0, the rest of the matches were close and took more time to determine the winner — leaving plenty of room for a Blue Devil comeback.

Montes had dropped his first set 3-6 on the top court, but was bouncing back in the second set and leading after Schulenburg’s victory. Sophomore Måns Dahlberg had dropped his first set 1-6 but was fighting hard to recover in the second in the hopes of forcing a tiebreaker set. Kiefer, on the other hand, had won his first set 7-6 and was fighting for a straight-set victory.

Dietrich’s matchup on court three was extremely close, with him and his opponent consistently going back and forth to take the lead by a point just for the set to be tied back up again right afterward. The second set slowly hiked up in score, getting to 6-6 and needing a tiebreaker to determine whether the match was over or if a third set would be needed. 

The tiebreaker was similar to the match and stayed close, but Dietrich fought hard to pull ahead enough to win his match. He managed to succeed and won his second set 7-6, giving Virginia its fourth point of the game and keeping Duke off of the scoreboard. Although his match was much longer — he finished 50 minutes after Schulenburg’s match — Dietrich fought hard when it mattered most and clinched the victory for the Cavaliers. 

Shortly after Dietrich’s victory, Dahlberg finished as well. He pulled ahead in the second set and won 6-3, forcing a third set that would break the tie. Although he lost his first set by five points, Dahlberg didn’t let it happen again and dominated the tiebreaking set — winning it 6-2 to make the score 5-0. 

Montes fought hard on the top court, definitively winning the second set 6-0 to force a tiebreaker. However, Duke senior Garrett Johns quickly took the lead in the third set and won 5-1, giving the Blue Devils their first and only point of the game.

Kiefer won the sixth point for Virginia, defeating his opponent 7-6, 2-6 and 6-4, also having to fight hard in the deciding set to get the point after having split results in the first and second sets. The Cavaliers each fought hard to win on their individual courts, and it made all the difference in the overall results.

Virginia will return home to host a pair of conference matches — facing Louisville Friday at 3 p.m. and closing out the weekend by facing Notre Dame Sunday at 1 p.m. This will be another set of opportunities for the Cavaliers to remain undefeated in their conference season as they’ve done for the first four games so far. 


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