COLLEGE STATION, Texas The No. 1 Virginia men’s tennis team suffered its first loss of the season, falling to No. 8 USC 4-0 in the NCAA Quarterfinals at the Mitchell Tennis Center. The Cavaliers end the season with a 32-1 record for the second consecutive season.
“It was a long match, going from yesterday to today,” said Virginia head coach Brian Boland. “They played really well. Southern Cal was sharp and they are extremely good from top to bottom. They deserved to win as they were the better team on the court today. We fought hard, but there were some things we needed to do better to find four points against USC.”
When the match began on Saturday, USC took a 1-0 lead by winning the doubles point. The Trojans took the early lead in doubles when Matt Kecki and Jaak Poldma topped Drew Courtney (Clifton, Va.) and Lee Singer (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) 8-5 at the No. 3 position. Virginia drew even at the No. 1 position. No. 12 Dominic Inglot (London, England) and Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.) were tied at 6-6 against No. 4 Steve Johnson and Robert Farah. The Cavalier duo broke Farah’s serve to go up 7-6 and Shabaz served out the match for the 8-6 Virginia win. With the opening point on the line, Houston Barrick (Brentwood, Tenn.) and Sanam Singh (Chandigarh, India) rallied from down a break to tie the match at 6-6 against Abdullah Magdas and Daniel Nguyen. The Virginia team took an 8-7 lead when they broke Nguyen’s serve, but the USC team broke Barrick’s serve in the next game to force a tiebreaker. In the breaker, the Trojan team took a 5-0 lead, but Virginia rebounded to close to 6-5 before the USC team closed out the 7-5 tiebreaker win. The 9-8 loss at No. 2 secured the doubles point for USC, just the third time all season the Cavaliers have lost the doubles point.
“We lost a difficult doubles point,” said Boland. “I thought we came into today believing we could win, whether we lost that point or not. I thought the delay to today took away any momentum they got by winning the doubles.”
Singles play began Saturday but was halted when the rain came about 10 minutes after the start. When play resumed on Sunday the Trojans took four of the six first sets in singles. The USC lead was extended to 2-0 as Farah defeated Inglot 6-3, 6-1 at No. 1 singles. Johnson topped Singh 6-3, 6-4 at No. 2 singles to make the score 3-0. Magdas clinched the victory for USC as he rallied from losing the first set to score a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Barrick.
The loss snapped Virginia’s 32-match winning streak, which had tied the school record set last season. The Cavaliers’ 32 wins this season matched the school record for a season, also set last year.
“It is really disappointing,” said Boland. “It is the sixth straight year we have been here (at the final site). This never gets easier. I don’t think that whether or not you win a national championship takes away from all of the things we have done as a program over the past few years. We not going to stop trying to come back and accomplish that goal and one of these years we are going to get the job done.”
Virginia will have four individuals stay in College Station for the NCAA Individual Championships, which start later this week. Inglot. Shabaz and Singh will compete in the NCAA Singles Championship, which begins Wednesday, while the teams of Inglot and Shabaz and Singh and Barrick will compete in the NCAA Doubles Championship, which begins Thursday.
No. 8 USC 4, No. 1 Virginia 0
1. #12 Inglot/Shabaz (UVa) def. #4 Farah/Johnson (USC) 8-6
2. #59 Magdas/Nguyen (USC) def. #13 Barrick/Singh (UVa) 9-8(5)
3. Kecki/Poldma (USC) def. Courtney/Singer (UVa) 8-5
1. #8 Robert Farah (USC) def. #14 Dominic Inglot (UVa) 6-3, 6-1
2. #53 Steve Johnson (USC) def. #26 Sanam Singh (UVa) 6-3, 6-4
3. #81 Jaak Poldma (USC) led #27 Michael Shabaz (UVa) 7-5, 4-6, 4-1 DNF
4. #106 Abdullah Magdas (USC) def. #70 Houston Barrick (UVa) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
5. Matt Kecki (USC) led Drew Courtney (UVa) 6-3, 6-6 DNF
6. #90 Lee Singer (UVa) led Daniel Nguyen (USC) 7-6(5), 5-2 DNF
Order of Finish