COLLEGE STATION, Texas The Virginia men’s tennis team had one singles player and one doubles team advance to the round of 16 of the NCAA Individual Championships on the second day of play at the Mitchell Tennis Center. The Cavalier duo of Dominic Inglot (London, England) and Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.) scored a first round upset of the No. 1 seed Jonas Berg and Bram ten Berge of Ole Miss in doubles, while Sanam Singh (Chandigarh, India) advanced to the round of 16 in singles play.
Inglot and Shabaz, ranked No. 12, played a close first set with the top-ranked Rebel duo. Both teams served well as no game even went to deuce and the opening set went to a tiebreaker. The Virginia team took a 5-3 lead in the breaker only to see the Ole Miss team win four straight points to win the tiebreaker 7-5.
In the second set, Inglot and Shabaz took an early lead, breaking Berg at love in the second game to take a 2-0. That one break was all the Cavalier team needed, holding serve in the set to take it 6-3.
The final set was tight like the first two, as it remained on serve to 4-4. In the fifth game, Inglot and Shabaz broke Berg’s serve for the second time in the match to take a 5-4 lead. In the ensuing game, Shabaz held his serve to deliver the upset of the No. 1 seed.
“Obviously they are a great team, you don’t get to be the No. 1 seed without having a great year,” said Shabaz. “It was just a real battle and it could have gone either way. We had a chance to win the first set tiebreaker and they were able to squeeze it out. We served well and weren’t broken the entire match and were able to get a break early in the second and late in the third to get the win.”
It was the second consecutive top-five team the duo has beaten. They topped fourth-ranked Robert Farah and Steve Johnson in the quarterfinals of the team tournament.
“That match gave us a lot of confidence because Farah and Johnson are a real strong team,” said Shabaz. “I also think the two-out-of-three set format of the NCAA Championships also helps us. Sometimes we can have a slow start and this format gives us some extra time. That paid off for us today.”
Inglot and Shabaz will meet Christian Rojmar and Raony Carvalho of Texas Tech in the second round on Friday. The Red Raider team defeated Diego Cubas and Ivan Machado of South Carolina 6-4, 7-5 in their first round match.
Singh advanced to the singles round of 16 with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Dimitar Kutrovsky of Texas. He needed just over an hour to defeat the 2008 All-American in straight sets.
In the first set, Singh fought off a pair of break points in the first game to hold. The match remained on serve until Singh broke Kutrovsky in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. He held that one break advantage at 5-2 when he broke Kutrovsky again in the eighth game to take the opening set 6-2.
“I struggled to hold in the first game, but after that I played really well,” said Singh. “I served well the rest of the match and that helped keep me going.”
Singh breezed through the second set 6-0 to secure the victory. For the match, Singh was 5-for-5 on break point opportunities, while fighting off all three break point opportunities he faced on his serve.
“I knew I was going to be in a lot of his service games,” said Singh. “Today I was able to have a good balance of being aggressive and being defensive to be able to take advantage of the break point opportunities I had.”
By reaching the round of 16, Singh secured All-American status in singles. He is the third Cavalier in history to reach the NCAA Singles Round of 16, joining Somdev Devvarman (three times) and Brian Vahaly (twice).
“I wanted to be an All-American and it is nice to have achieved that,” said Singh. “But I am not satisfied with that. I want to go farther in this tournament.”
Singh will meet No. 6 seed John-Patrick Smith of Tennessee in the round of 16 on Friday. Smith, the 2008 NCAA Singles runner-up to Devvarman, topped North Carolina’s Clay Donato 6-3, 7-6 in his second round match.
Inglot suffered a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 loss to Devin Britton of Ole Miss in the second round. Both players served well throughout the match and there was just one break of serve in each of the three sets. Inglot will also be a singles All-American this year by being seeded for the NCAA Tournament. With that honor, Inglot joins Devvarman, Vahaly and Doug Stewart as the only multiple-time singles All-Americans in school history.
In doubles, Singh and Houston Barrick (Brentwood, Tenn.) almost delivered a first round upset of their own, as they were edged by No. 4 seeded Jamie Hunt and Nate Schnugg of Georgia. The Cavalier team took the first set when they broke Hunt’s serve in the third game and held the rest of the way to 6-4. The Bulldog team answered by taking the second set 6-3. In the final set, the Cavalier team was up a break at 5-2, but the Georgia team rallied to tie the match. The third set went to a breaker, where Hunt and Schnugg won 7-4 to win the match.