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May 25, 2006

STANFORD, Calif. – Three members of Virginia men’s tennis team advanced to the round of 16 of the 2006 NCAA Individual Championships on the second day of play Thursday at the Taube Tennis Center. Somdev Devvarman (Chennai, India) reached the round of 16 of the NCAA Singles Championship, while Rylan Rizza (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.) and Nick Meythaler (Owensboro, Ky.) advanced to the round of 16 of the NCAA Doubles Championship.

Devvarman, a 9-16 seed, downed Martin Sayer of Radford 6-3, 6-4 in a second round match. The match remained on serve through the first four games of the first set before Devvarman broke Sayer’s serve to take a 3-2 lead. He held that one break advantage to 5-3 in the set before he broke Sayer again to close out the opening set 6-3.

In the second set, Devvarman was up 2-1, on serve, when he broke Sayer to take a 3-1 lead. However, Sayer broke back in the next game and held in his next service game to tie the set at 3-3. Sayer continued that momentum into the next game, going up 15-40 on Devvarman. The Cavalier fought off the two break points against him and held serve for a 4-3 lead. The players held serve in the next two games, before Devvarman, leading 5-4, broke Sayer’s serve in the final game to clinch the set, 6-4, and the match.

Devvarman becomes the second Cavalier in history to reach the round of 16 of the NCAA Singles Championship. Brian Vahaly (98-01) reached the quarterfinals in 2000 and the finals in 2001.

Rizza also competed in the round of 32 on Thursday, but fell to No. 6 seeded Conor Niland of California. In the first set, Rizza rallied from down a break twice, before taking a 6-5 lead. In the final game of the set, he broke Niland to take the opening set 7-5.

However, in the second set, Niland, who has lost only two matches all year, gained momentum by breaking Rizza to open the set and took the set 6-2 to force a decisive set. The third set also started by Niland breaking Rizza’s serve, as he won the first four games of the set. With Niland leading 5-1, Rizza fought off two match points at 15-40 to hold serve and then broke Niland to cut the lead to 5-3. However, in the next game, Niland broke back to clinch the final set 6-3.

Rizza ends his Cavalier singles career with 123 victories. That figure ranks second in school history, and is just two shy of Vahaly’s school record of 125 career singles wins.

Thursday also marked the first day of competition of the NCAA Doubles Championship, and the team of Rizza and Meythaler opened play with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Ryan Keckley and Eric Langenkamp of Notre Dame. Rizza and Meythaler, seeded 5-8, got their first career NCAA Doubles Championship victory as they are making their third consecutive appearance.

The Cavalier duo dominated the first set, taking it 6-0. Rizza and Meythaler broke the Irish team in the first, third, and fifth games, while losing just two points on their serve in the other three games.

In the second set, the Cavaliers broke to open the set and then held to take a 2-0 lead. Virginia held that one break advantage until 4-3 in the set when Notre Dame broke to draw even at 4-all. The Cavaliers broke right back in the next game and Meythaler held serve to close out the set 6-4.

With the win, Rizza and Meythaler become just the second Cavalier team to win a match in the NCAA Doubles Championship. Vahaly and Huntley Montgomery (98-01) reached the semifinals in 2001.

The tournaments continue on Friday with the round of 16 in both singles and doubles. Devvarman will meet No. 5 seed Ludovic Walter of Duke in the singles draw, while Rizza and Meythaler will play Rafael Abreu and Jordan Freitas of TCU.

NCAA Singles Championship

Second Round – May 25, 2006
#14 Somdev Devvarman (Virginia) def. #26 Martin Sayer (Radford) 6-3, 6-4
#6 Conor Niland (California) def. #54 Rylan Rizza (Virginia) 5-7, 6-2, 6-3

Third Round – May 26, 2006
#14 Somdev Devvarman (Virginia) vs. #5 Ludovic Walter (Duke)

NCAA Doubles Championship

First Round – May 25, 2006
#7 Rizza/Meythaler (Virginia) def. #28 Keckley/Langenkamp (Notre Dame) 6-0, 6-4

Second Round – May 26, 2006
#7 Rizza/Meythaler (Virginia) vs. #27 Abreu/Freitas (TCU)

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