COLLEGE STATION, Texas The Virginia men’s tennis team had a singles player and doubles team advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Individual Championships on day three of the tournaments at the Mitchell Tennis Center. Sanam Singh (Chandigarh, India) reached the singles quarterfinals, while the team of Dominic Inglot (London, England) and Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.) advanced to the doubles quarterfinals.
Singh moved into the quarterfinals with is 6-4, 7-5 win over No. 6 seed John-Patrick Smith of Tennessee. Last season, Smith was the NCAA Singles runner-up as he fell in the final to Somdev Devvarman.
Singh jumped out to an early lead, breaking Smith’s serve in the first game of the match. He went up two breaks at 4-1 when he broke Smith again in the fifth game. Smith answered in the following game to get a break back, but Singh held serve in his next two service games to win the set 6-4.
“Obviously he has a big lefty serve, but he is also very crafty,” said Singh. “It was very important to get that first break early and then the second one, which was an insurance break. That one turned out to be critical to being able to win the first set.
In the second set, Smith went up a break when he broke Singh’s serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. Singh broke back in the following game to get back on serve, where the players remained until 5-5. In the 11th game, Singh rallied from down 40-15 to break Smith’s serve and put the match on his racquet. He held serve in the ensuing game to win the match 6-4, 7-5.
“I lost a little focus and played a poor game at 2-3,” said Singh. “I came right back and broke him in the next game to get back on serve, which was important because it would have been tough to come back from 5-2 in the set. I was able to play a good match from that point and win the match.”
Singh becomes the third Cavalier to reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA Singles Championship. Devvarman accomplished the feat three times (2006, 2007 and 2008) and Brian Vahaly did it twice (2000 and 2001). The win was also Singh’s 41st singles win of the year, the third highest total in school history behind Devvarman’s 44 wins in 2007 and 2008.
Singh will meet the No. 1 seed, Arnau Brugues of Tulsa, in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
“It is great to be in the quarters, but I am taking it one match at a time,” said Singh. “Brugues is a great player. I have to continue to do the right things and play smart tennis.”
The team of Inglot and Shabaz topped Christian Rojamr and Raony Carvalho of Texas Tech 6-3, 6-4 in their second round match.
In the opening set, the team remained on serve until the eighth game when the Cavalier duo broke Rojmar’s serve to take a 5-3 lead. In the ensuing game, Shabaz served to 40-0 before the Red Raider team rallied to win four straight points to get a break point chance. Shabaz hit an ace to pull back to deuce and Virginia won the next two points to close out the first set.
“We faced a few break points in my first service game and in Dom’s first service game, but we were able to hold,” said Shabaz. “That got us going and late in the set we were able to hit some return winners to break them at 5-3.”
The teams remained on serve through the first four games of the second set before the Cavalier team broke Carvalho’s serve in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Inglot and Shabaz held serve in each of their service games the rest of the way to close out the 6-3, 6-4 win.
“We were able to get that break early in the second set and just served well from there out,” said Shabaz. “We have been serving well all tournament and haven’t been broken yet in two matches so far. If we are able to keep that up, I like our chances.”
By reaching the quarterfinals, Inglot and Shabaz will earn All-American honors. Inglot, who earned singles All-American status by being seeded for the NCAA Singles Championship, joins Devvarman and Vahaly as the only Cavaliers to earn All-America honors in both singles and doubles. The honor for Shabaz is the first of his career, as he becomes the 10th Cavalier to be named an All-American.
“To say you are an All-American, that means a lot,” said Shabaz. “We just want to keep playing well and see how far we can go in this tournament.”
Inglot and Shabaz will play No. 5-8 seed Omar Altmann and Bassam Beidas of Pepperdine in the quarterfinals on Saturday.