UVa Men's Tennis Kicks Off Spring Season
Jan. 17, 2002
The UVa men’s tennis team is coming off one of its more successful runs in school history, thanks in part to the on and off-court leadership of Brian Vahaly and Huntley Montgomery, as they helped lead the team to a 14-8 record in 2001. Both graduated last May, and their talent will be missed. Also departed is head coach Dick Stockton, who left UVa to return to the state of Florida, where he will be pursuing new interests in his tennis career. Some new faces, a new head coach and new attitude enter the program this season, as the Cavaliers try not to figure out how to replace the gifted Vahaly and Montgomery, but instead set the tone for the future of the program.
The first step was the hiring of Brian Boland, who in five years as a head coach at Indiana State, led the Sycamores to a record of 120-31 (.728) and a conference record of 56-4. “In hiring Brian Boland as our next tennis coach, we have insured the continued success of our team. Not only is he a proven winner, but, a proven advocate for the total development of the student-athletes he coaches,” Senior associate athletics director Jane Miller said, after the appointment of new coach Boland. “Since announcing his appointment to our staff, we have received overwhelming support for his selection. This program is clearly in good hands with Brian at the helm.”
The support and enthusiasm about the direction the program is heading, spreads all the way to Virginia athletics director, Craig Littlepage, who has backed up the first hiring of his tenure, by issuing the following words, “Brian Boland not only brings experience and demonstrated success to our tennis program, he also brings a level of enthusiasm and energy that is contagious,” Littlepage added. “His teams win on the court and his student-athletes are winners in the classroom. With our goal of achieving a top-ten athletics program supported by the Board of Visitors and President Casteen, the men’s tennis team at UVa will develop into one of the more consistently successful programs in the country.” Within three months on the job, Boland inked four of the nation’s top recruits to a National Letter of Intent.
While the team will not immediately be one of the most successful programs in the country, new coach Boland stresses that the members of this year’s team are aware of that, and are looking to set a standard for the future of the program as the primarily goal for 2002.”I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing each player develop over the fall season,” Boland points out. “This will ensure future success this spring and for many years to come. We have a lot of parity on this team. I will be looking for players who want to compete and work hard on a consistent basis. It will be interesting to see who steps forward to grasp the opportunity. Our guys are willing to do whatever it takes.” Six members from last year’s team join the mix, as well as six newcomers. Completing his staff, Boland appointed Robert Abendroth as his assistant coach, while Huntley Montgomery will remain in Charlottesville as a volunteer assistant.
Among the more experienced returnees include Michael Duquette. Duquette finished with a 16-17 overall record last year, including a 6-13 record at No. 4. Duquette also competed this fall, picking up wins at the Navy Classic in singles and doubles competition, while making it to the finals of the consolation match at the Virginia Tech open, the team’s final competition this fall. He finished his 2001 fall season with a 6-6 record.
“Michael is a tremendous athlete who can compete with anyone in the country on any given day,” Boland added. “I think every aspect of his game improved over the fall season and I look for him to further develop in the spring. He has been an outstanding leader and I look for him to be very competitive at the top of the line-up.”
Tim Snead returns some valuable experience from last season, while Stephen Nolen is a gifted first-year player who can contribute right away. Snead, who only competed in one match last season at No. 6, will seek more playing time while Nolen, a first-year member of the program from Aurora, Colo., is coming off a nice start to his collegiate career after competing in all matches this fall. Both Nolen and Snead advanced to the semi-finals of the Virginia Tech open this past November and won their matches at the Navy Classic, the team’s opening triumph of the fall season. While both competitors are young and lack experience, they are good enough athletes who compete hard. Nolen finished his first fall season in Charlottesville, going 6-5 in the fall season, while Snead was 3-5.
Another pair of leaders, in the eyes of coach Boland, are Jonathan Chou and Jason Romesburg. Chou started at the No. 5 and No. 6 spot last year, picking up a win in each seed. Romesburg started at No. 6. With Chou, the team has a dependable veteran with great experience, while with Romesburg, there is a player with untapped potential. “I can’t appreciate enough the leadership that Jonathan Chou and Jason Romesburg have provided the team, even since I got here,” Boland added. “Jason’s a real vocal kind of guy who his teammates will listen to, while Chou has been here the longest, and because of that, has developed natural leadership instincts.” Romesburg led the team with seven victories in singles competition, finishing 7-4 overall, while Chou had arguably his best fall season since coming to UVa, going 4-2.
Others who are expected to contribute, include Gregory Alpert, Jay Curtis, Patrick Guarnieri, Warren Knapp, Dan Lempa, Mark Montandon and Dillon Walker. Alpert competed sparingly, but teamed with Duquette in doubles action last season, picking up a win at Maryland. Guarnieri picked up two wins in his first-year, one at Navy, the other against Illinois State. The others are all first-years. Lempa is actually enrolled in graduate school at UVa, but in his first year with the program and another member of the team who may be able to provide leadership. Curtis had a very successful scholastic career in Memphis, Tenn., where he excelled on a national level in singles and doubles competition. Walker comes to UVa from Texas, where he was ranked as high as No. 4 in the Texas section ranking. Both Curtis and Walker have the ability to contribute right away. Curtis had the best winning percentage of anyone in the fall season, going 6-1 in singles, and was 2-1 in doubles with Jonathan Chou.
While this will mostly be a rebuilding season for the UVa men’s tennis program, this group which may lack experience, has already made the most of its opportunity to compete, and will only continue to work hard as the spring season rolls around. The goal is not to win Championships this season, but to set a standard and hard work ethic for future teams to follow, which will hopefully lay the foundation for the program to become one of the elite in collegiate tennis.
Boland will be helped by former Cavalier players, now turned assistants, Robert Abendroth and Huntley Montgomery. Abendroth, a former trasnfer from the University of Mississippi, competed mostly in doubles during his career, is a great motivator on the court in practice, and according to Boland, hopefully during the team’s competitions this season. “I am really thrilled that Rob has decided to join our program,” Boland said. “He will bring a wealth of energy, knowledge and experience, and I have no doubt that he will be an effective leader for us.” Montgomery remains in Charlottesville, following one of the most successful careers in school history. He had 27 wins in singles a year ago, 34 in doubles with Brian Vahaly, as well as being a three-time All-ACC performer. ” I’m also very pleased that Huntley has decided to continue to be part of the program,” Boland said. “Huntley is able to translate his own experiences as a player to the team as well as anyone I have ever seen. He is full of energy and we are very lucky to have him.”
“The greatest thing about this team is the chemistry and unselfishness they all have,” Boland said. Every player on this team is totally committed to being part of the team first. I really believe this will help us succeed.”