Men's Tennis Set for Regional
May 13, 1998
NCAA Region II Tournament–May 15-17, 1998
Thalhimer Tennis Center–Va. Commonwealth University
Cavaliers Face ACC Rival Florida State in First Round: Virginia meets fellow ACC member Florida State on Friday (May 15) in the first round of the NCAA Region II Tournament at the Thalhimer Tennis Center on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. The #45-ranked Cavaliers are 16-7 this season and are the third seed, while the #40 Seminoles are 17-7 and seeded sixth. The match is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. The Cavaliers got a big 5-2 win over the Seminoles in Charlottesville a month ago and are 3-7 all-time against the Seminoles.
Virginia Makes Second Consecutive Appearance in NCAA Tournament: The Cavaliers’ bid to the NCAA Region II Tournament marks their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Virginia’s bid to last season’s Region II Tournament marked the first time in school history the Cavaliers received a team bid to the NCAA Tournament. Virginia had individual competitors in the NCAA Tournament several times previously when the field was comprised solely of individual participants.
Cavaliers Putting it Together at the Right Time: Virginia is having one of its best all-around seasons in over a decade in 1998. The Cavaliers are 16-7 overall this spring, including a 5-3 mark in ACC play. Since dropping consecutive conference matches to Clemson and Wake Forest (by identical 5-2 scores), they have reeled off seven wins in the last nine matches leading up to the NCAA Region II Tournament. The lone setbacks are to NCAA Tournament participant and ACC champion Duke. The Wahoos have won five of their last seven matches against teams ahead of them in the rankings–again, the lone losses have been to Duke.
Virginia Makes First ACC Title Match Appearance: Virginia advanced to the finals of the ACC Tournament for the first time ever last month, where the Cavaliers fell to perennial power Duke 4-2. The Cavaliers avenged an early-season loss to Wake Forest with a 4-2 win in the first round and defeated North Carolina 4-2 in the semifinals for their second win in a week over the Tar Heels to set up the meeting against Duke.
Second Consecutive Upper Division Finish: When Thomas Johnston took over the head coaching reins in 1994, some of his goals were to build one of the top programs in the country and compete for ACC championships. He is clearly working toward those goals by regularly finding his team ranked in the polls. But the push for an ACC title is getting closer, too, as the Cavaliers advanced to the finals of the ACC Tournament for the first time ever this year. This season the Cavaliers finished third in the league with a 5-3 record for the second consecutive season. This marks the first time in school history the team has won at least five conference matches in back-to-back seasons. It is also the first time since 1973-74 that the Cavaliers have finished third or higher in the league in consecutive seasons.
Head Coach Thomas Johnston: Thomas Johnston has built the Virginia program into one of the top up-and-coming programs in the country and has caused people to take notice. His Cavaliers have fashioned a 16-7 record this season (5-3 in the ACC), in one of UVa’s best seasons in over a decade. In his fifth year as head of the Cavalier program, Johnston has a 70-45 (.609) record. He was the head coach at the Pomona-Pitzer (Calif.) Colleges from 1985-90 and has an overall career record of 155-86 (.643).
Vahaly Named ACC Rookie of the Year, Invited to NCAA Championships: Freshman Brian Vahaly came to Virginia as the nation’s top recruit and he’s certainly lived up to his billing. Playing #1 for the Cavaliers this season he is 10-4 at #1 and 19-9 overall this season and was recently named the ACC’s Rookie of the Year–the first Cavalier to win the award. He is also one of two players from Region II to receive an invitation to participate in the individual competition at the NCAA Championships at the University of Georgia on May 27-31. He is the first player in school history invited to the individual NCAA Championships since Geoff MacDonald in 1981. Vahaly is currently ranked 42nd in the country in singles, the only Cavalier ranked in the top 100.
Rookies Garner All-ACC Recognition: Highly touted freshmen Huntley Montgomery and Brian Vahaly have been the Cavaliers’ top-two players this season and were recently named to the All-ACC team by the league’s nine head coaches. Vahaly, considered the nation’s top recruit, has played #1 for most of the spring and compiled a 19-9 record. Montgomery began the spring at #3, but quickly moved to #2. He is second on the team in wins with a 26-12 record. They paired in doubles to claim the ACC title at #2 (have since moved to #1) and are 26-10 this season.
Three With 20+ Wins: For the fourth consecutive season, three Cavaliers have won at least 20 matches. Hyon Yoo, who led the team with 23 wins as a freshman in 1996, leads the way with 28 victories. Freshman Huntley Montgomery is second with 26 triumphs, while sophomore John Winter has 23 wins. Winter led the team with 26 wins last season. Brian Vahaly has 19 wins, one away from joining the 20-win club.
Freshmen Lead Cavaliers: Virginia’s line-up features three freshmen in the top six in what might be one of the youngest line-ups in the nation. Brian Vahaly plays #1, Huntley Montgomery at #2 and Tommy Croker at #6. Vahaly replaced Bear Schofield atop the line-up in early March and has won 10 of his last 13 matches there. Montgomery’s resurgence has mirrored that of the team this spring. He lost three consecutive matches in late March, but put together a seven-match winning streak that ended against Duke in the ACC finals. Croker moved into the line-up early in the spring and has improved throughout the spring, winning three of his last five matches.
Strength Throughout the Line-Up: Virginia has put together perhaps the best line-up in school history this season, winning at least 60 percent of its matches at #1-5. Led by Hyon Yoo, the Cavaliers are 18-4 this spring at #4 and 16-5 at #3. The Cavaliers have also received strong play at #5 (14-7) and #2 (15-8).
Yoo, Winter ACC Singles Champs: For the first time in school history, two Cavaliers are ACC singles champions. Junior Hyon Yoo, an All-ACC choice in 1996, is the champion at #4 this season. He fashioned a 7-1 league record, including 5-1 at #4 and 2-0 at #3. Yoo leads the team with a 28-10 record and has won 11 of his last 12 matches. Winter, a second generation Cavalier from Richmond whose father lettered in 1969-70, is the champion at #5. He posted a 5-3 league mark, including 4-2 at #5 and 1-1 at #4, this spring. A rangy serve and volley player, he won his first 11 dual matches this spring. He is 18-4 this spring and 23-11 overall.
Undefeated Freshman Pair Claims Doubles Crown: Brian Vahaly and Huntley Montgomery are the ACC champions at #2 doubles. The freshman tandem completed an undefeated conference season, going 7-0 at #2 and 1-0 at #1. They are the first doubles team to go undefeated in all league matches since North Carolina’s Roland Thornqvist and Darryl Wyatt went 8-0 at #1 in 1992. Vahaly and Montgomery are 26-10 this season. After a slow start this spring, they have been on fire recently. They split their first eight matches this spring, but have reeled off 10 wins in the last 12 matches.
Schofield Return Boosts Squad: Senior co-captain Bear Schofield is slowly getting back to full strength after battling an ankle injury throughout most of the spring. The two-time All-ACC honoree has had to pick his spots and has missed six dual matches this spring. He was expected to play #1 this season, but with his injuries (and the fine play of Brian Vahaly) he has moved to #3. He is 13-12 overall this season.