Singh Upsets #1 Seed as UVa Advances in Singles and Doubles
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Virginia men’s tennis team had its run in the 2009 NCAA Individual Championships continue in the quarterfinals Saturday at the Mitchell Tennis Center. Sanam Singh (Chandigrh, India) upset the nation’s No. 1 player Arnau Brugues of Tulsa in straight sets to advance to the singles semifinals, while Dominic Inglot (London, England) and Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.) defeated No. 5-8 seed Omar Altmann and Bassam Beidas of Pepperdine in straight sets to reach the doubles semifinals.
Singh took down the No. 1 seed 6-2, 6-4, ending Brugues’ 28-match winning streak. He has won all four of his matches in the tournament in straight sets, the only player to reach the semifinals without dropping a set.
Singh jumped out to an early lead, breaking Brugues at love in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. He later broke Brugues at love again in the seventh game to take a 5-2 lead before serving out the first set.
“Brugues is a great player and he was the No. 1 seed for a reason,” said Singh. “I knew he liked to control the points, so I tried to not allow him to do so and control the points with my play. I felt like I did a good job of not letting him get a grip on the match.”
The second set remained close, with both players easily holding serve in the first six games. With Brugues serving at 3-3, Singh thought he went up a break when Brugues’ cross-court forehand at ad-out just missed. But the ball was ruled good and the top seed won the next two points to hold serve. In the ensuing game, Singh fell behind 0-40, but rolled off five straight points to hold his serve and get to 4-4. The momentum of the hold helped Singh break Brugues in the next game to take a 5-4 lead before he served out the match 6-4.
“I knew that second set was going to be a battle,” said Singh. “He is too good a player just to go away and let me have it. I lost a little bit of composure at 3-4 and got down three break points, but being able to come back and hold was big. I played a strong game at 4-4 and got the break I needed.”
Singh becomes the third Cavalier to reach the semifinals of the NCAA Singles Championship. Devvarman accomplished the feat three times (2006, 2007 and 2008) and Brian Vahaly did it once (2001). The win was also Singh’s 42nd 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. 9-16 seed Steven Moneke of Ohio State in the semifinals on Sunday. No. 9-16 seed Blake Strode of Arkansas will meet unseeded freshman Devin Britton of Ole Miss in the other semifinal.
“I am just trying to take this tournament match-by-match,” said Singh. “I just want to get some food, get some rest and get ready to go into tomorrow’s match with the same mindset I have had every day of the tournament. Moneke is a tough player, so it should be a fun match.”
The team of Inglot and Shabaz topped Altmann and Beidas 6-4, 6-2 in the doubles quarterfinals. They become the third Cavalier team to reach the semifinals. Devvarman and Treat Huey reached the semifinals in 2007, as did the team of Vahaly and Huntley Montgomery in 2001.
In the opening set, neither team lost more than one point on their serve through the first eight games. At 4-4, Inglot and Shabaz used several big returns to break Altmann’s serve to take a 5-4 lead. Inglot served out the first set in the following game, as the Cavalier team took the opener 6-4.
“That break was big for us,” said Shabaz. “Dom was serving well, getting a lot of first serves in, so when we had him serving for the first set, we felt confident.”
Early in the second set, the Pepperdine team had two break points on Shabaz’s serve in the second game, but the Cavalier duo was able pull out the game. After Altmann held to give Pepperdine a 2-1 lead, the Virginia team rolled off five straight games to close out the match, 6-4, 6-2.
“That hold in the second game was huge,” said Shabaz. “I had a second serve at 30-40 that hit the line. When we held, we knew we had fought out of a hole. From that point, we just started swinging for winners on our return games and were able to break them a couple of times.”
Inglot and Shabaz will play Clay Donato and Taylor Fogleman of North Carolina in the semifinals on Sunday. The two teams have met three times this season with the Tar Heel duo winning two of the three matches.
“Our serving has given us a lot of confidence,” said Shabaz. “We have played three matches and haven’t been broken once. If we are holding easily, it gives us a chance to slap at some returns and see if they go in. That puts a lot of pressure on our opponents. We just want to keep that game plan going.”
Virginia becomes the first school since 2003 to have a player in the singles semifinals and two different players in the doubles semifinals. That season, Illinois had Amer Delic reach the singles semifinals and the team of Rajeev Ram and Brian Wilson reach the doubles semifinals. Both Delic and the Illini doubles team won the national championship that season.