SEATTLE The Virginia men’s tennis team became the first ACC school to win a team men’s tennis national championship, topping Ohio State 4-1 in the National Team Indoors final Monday afternoon at the Nordstrom Tennis Center. The top-ranked Cavaliers (11-0) became just 11th different program to win the event in the 34-year history of the tournament.
“To win a national championship means so much to this program,” said Virginia head coach Brian Boland. “This group of guys deserved this as a reward for all of their hard work. They put the team above themselves as individuals and it came together today. Ohio State is a great team and we knew we had to play at a high level to beat them.”
In doubles, the Cavaliers took a 1-0 lead by winning a tight opening point. At No. 1 doubles, Somdev Devvarman (Chennai, India) and Treat Huey (Alexandria, Va.) jumped out to a 6-2 lead over Matt Allare and Mike O’Connell and held on for the 8-5 victory. Virginia had a chance to clinch the opening point at the No. 2 position, as Houston Barrick (Brentwood, Tenn.) and Dominic Inglot (London, England) went to a tiebreaker against Justin Kronauge and Drew Eberly. The Cavalier duo took a 5-0 lead in the breaker, but the Buckeye team rallied to win the breaker 8-6.
The opening point came down to another tiebreaker, this one at No. 3 doubles where Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.) and Sanam Singh (Chandigarh, India) were battling with Steven Moneke and Bryan Koniecko. The tiebreaker was tied 3-3 at the changeover, but the Cavalier team went up a mini-break at 4-3. After holding on the next two points to go up 6-3, Singh and Shabaz won a point off of the Buckeyes’ serve to clinch the match 7-4. For Singh and Shabaz, six of their 10 matches this season have gone to tiebreakers, and they are 3-3 in those contests.
“The doubles point was so critical,” said Boland. “Dom and Houston had a chance to end it but fell short and Michael and Sanam had opportunities to end it as well. But those two guys, both freshmen, kept digging deep and pulled it out and that gave us a lot of momentum.”
The singles play was close from the start, with each team winning three first sets. The Cavaliers were able to cruise to straight set wins in two of the matches to take a 3-0 lead. Singh recorded his 11th consecutive singles win with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Shuhei Uzawa at No. 4 singles.
“Sanam just keeps getting better,” said Boland. “He has been just an unbelievable freshman for us. The team has so much confidence in him right now that he is going to go out and get a point every time.”
Devvarman recorded the third point of the day for Virginia with his 6-1, 6-3 win over Kronauge at the No. 1 position. The victory was his 13th consecutive singles win this season and his 18th consecutive dual match singles win dating back to last season.
Ohio State closed to 3-1 as Moneke topped Inglot in straight sets at No. 2 singles. At No. 3 singles, Huey had an opportunity to clinch the championship for Virginia. The Cavalier co-captain had taken the first set in his match with Koniecko 7-5 and the second set headed to a tiebreaker. Huey had a match point at 6-5 in the breaker but couldn’t convert. Koniecko had two set points, at 7-6 and 8-7 in the breaker, but Huey fought both off. After Koniecko double-faulted at 8-8, Huey served for the match at 9-8 and won as Koniecko’s backhand sailed long.
“I couldn’t think of a better guy to clinch this win than Treat,” said Boland. “He hadn’t been playing his best tennis this week but kept working hard, going for extra hitting sessions each night, just doing whatever it took. He got back to basics today and it was so fitting for him, as a co-captain, to be the one that sealed this victory.”
The Cavaliers were the third ACC team to reach the ITA National Indoor final, but both Clemson in 1987 and Virginia in 2005 fell in the championship match. The event, which annually fields every team in the preseason top 10, is considered the indoor national championship with the NCAA Championship the outdoor championship. Last season, Georgia won both the ITA National Indoors and NCAA Championships.
“There is still a big part of the season to go,” said Boland. “We will celebrate this win tonight and have a good trip back to Charlottesville. But I still think we have a lot of room for improvement so we will be back to work this week looking to improve each and every day like we have all year.”
The Cavaliers will return to action on Saturday as they host a doubleheader at the Boyd Tinsley Courts at the Boar’s Head Sports Club. Virginia will play Old Dominion at 1 p.m. and host Boston College in its ACC opener at 6 p.m. Admission to both matches is free.
No. 1 Virginia 4, No. 3 Ohio State 1
1. #1 Devvarman/Huey (UVa) def. #19 Allare/O’Connell (OSU) 8-5
2. #29 Kronauge/Eberly (OSU) def. #25 Barrick/Inglot (UVa) 9-8 (6)
3. #28 Shabaz/Singh (UVa) def. Koniecko/Moneke (OSU) 9-8 (4)
1. #1 Somdev Devvarman (UVa) def. #6 Justin Kronauge (OSU) 6-1, 6-3
2. #60 Steven Moneke (OSU) def. #3 Dominic Inglot (UVa) 6-2, 6-2
3. #12 Treat Huey (UVa) def. #85 Bryan Koniecko (OSU) 7-5, 7-6 (8)
4. Sanam Singh (UVa) def. Shuhei Uzawa (OSU) 6-2, 6-3
5. #83 Houston Barrick (UVa) led Matt Allare (OSU) 6-7 (3), 7-6 (6), 2-1 DNF
6. #95 Drew Eberly (OSU) led Ted Angelinos (UVa) 6-4, 6-6 DNF
Order of Finish: Doubles- 1,2,3 Singles- 4,1,2,3
Records: Virginia (11-0), Ohio State (11-1)