COLLEGE STATION, Texas The No. 1 Virginia men’s tennis team advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive season, topping No. 16 Florida State 4-2 Thursday afternoon in a round of 16 match at the Mitchell Tennis Center. The Cavaliers (32-0) also tied the school record for wins in a season with the victory.
“This was a great college tennis match,” said Virginia head coach Brian Boland. “It was the third time we played Florida State this year and it is always hard to beat a team as good as they are three times. We have so much respect for them and we knew it was going to be a challenge. I was pleased with how we played, how prepared we were, and how we handled the conditions.”
The Cavaliers opened doubles play by scoring an 8-3 win at the No. 1 position. No. 12 Dominic Inglot (London, England) and Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.) broke Vahid Mirzadeh’s serve three times to record the win over No. 20 Mirzadeh and Jean-Yves Aubone. Florida State drew even as Clint Bowles and Chris Cloer topped Drew Courtney (Clifton, Va.) and Lee Singer (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) at the No. 3 position. With the opening point on the line, No. 13 Houston Barrick (Brentwood, Tenn.) and Sanam Singh (Chandigarh, India) topped No. 74 Drew Bailey and Maciek Sykut 8-6. The Cavalier duo went up a break at 6-4 and held serve to win, which avenged a loss when the teams met in the ACC Tournament.
“We have had a lot of success in doubles this year,” said Boland. “We have won the doubles point in 30 of 32 matches this year. We have had a lot of matches like this one where it is really a team effort in doubles. It seems like if one team struggles, the other two teams pick up their level. Somehow, we always seem to play well in two of three and every once in a while we have all three play well.”
In singles, the teams played even at the beginning with each team winning three first sets. Virginia extended its lead to 2-0 as Courtney scored a 6-4, 6-2 win over Bailey at No. 5 singles. The Seminoles cut that advantage in half, 2-1, when Aubone defeated Inglot 6-4, 6-3 at the top position. Singh extended the Cavalier lead to 3-1 as he topped Bowles 7-5, 6-3 at No. 2 singles. Florida State drew within one again at 3-2 when Mirzadeh topped Barrick 6-3, 6-4 at the No. 4 position. The final two matches went three sets. Shabaz jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first set at No. 3 against Sykut, only to drop the first set 6-4. Shabaz answered by winning the second set 6-3 to force a decisive set. In the third set, Shabaz broke a 1-1 tie by breaking Sykut’s serve and rolled off four straight games to take a 5-1 lead. After Sykut won a pair of games to close within 5-3, Shabaz broke Sykut’s serve to close out the win. At No. 6, Singer led Cloer 3-1 in the third set when the match was abandoned.
“In the first set, I went up 2-0, but then didn’t make enough first serves and he came back and took the first set,” said Shabaz. “It was similar to our match at the ACC Tournament. In that match I lost the first set, won the second, and was in position to win the third before it got stopped. I tried to stay steady in the third set (today) and used my legs to make him work. I made enough balls and put enough pressure on him to win the set.”
With their 32nd consecutive win, the Cavaliers tied the school record win streak set last season. The victory also extended the Cavaliers’ win streak of 47 consecutive wins against ACC opponents (regular season and tournaments).
“I didn’t see this as a No. 1 vs. No. 16 type of match,” said Boland. “There is so much parity in college tennis. So far today there has been two 4-2s and two 4-3s in the round of 16. You just have to get through and move on to the next round. We are looking forward to playing Southern Cal on Saturday.”
Virginia will meet No. 8 seed USC in the quarterfinals on Saturday. That match is slated for 1 p.m. CT (2 p.m. ET) at the Mitchell Tennis Center.
No. 1 Virginia 4, No. 16 Florida State 2
1. #12 Inglot/Shabaz (UVa) def. #20 Aubone/Mirzadeh (FSU) 8-3
2. #13 Barrick/Singh (UVa) def. #74 Bailey/Sykut (FSU) 8-6
3. Bowles/Cloer (FSU) def. Courtney/Singer (UVa) 8-6
1. #20 Jean-Yves Aubone (FSU) def. #14 Dominic Inglot (UVa) 6-4, 6-3
2. #26 Sanam Singh (UVa) def. #58 Clint Bowles (FSU) 7-5, 6-3
3. #27 Michael Shabaz (UVa) def. Maciek Sykut (FSU) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
4. Vahid Mirzadeh (FSU) def. #70 Houston Barrick (FSU) 6-3, 6-4
5. Drew Courtney (UVa) def. Drew Bailey (FSU) 6-4, 6-2
6. #90 Lee Singer (UVa) led Chris Cloer (FSU) 7-6(6), 3-6, 3-1 DNF
Order of Finish