COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Dominic Inglot (London, England) and Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.) became the first doubles team from the ACC to win the NCAA Doubles Championship, defeating No. 2 seed John-Patrick Smith and Davey Sandgren of Tennessee 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 in the final Monday at the Mitchell Tennis Center.
Inglot and Shabaz are the first unseeded team to win the title since Rajeev Ram and Brian Wilson of Illinois in 2003. Ranked No. 12 entering the tournament, the Cavalier duo is the lowest ranked team to take the title since Auburn’s Andrew Colombo and Mark Kovacs, ranked No. 27, won the championship in 2002, also in College Station.
“I am so proud of Dom and Michael,” said head coach Brian Boland. “They played incredibly well and worked hard all season long. This is a great reward for them. They stayed composed through a lot of tough situations. Doubles, especially at this level, is so close. In three of their five matches, they lost the first set. For them to respond in such a positive way from that adversity is a tremendous credit to the type of players they are.”
In the first set, the Tennessee team jumped out to an early lead. After Sandgren held in the first game, the Volunteers rallied from a 40-0 hole to break Inglot’s serve to take a 2-0 lead. That proved to be the only time the Cavalier team was broken all day. The Virginia team had three break points on Sandgren’s serve when the Vol was serving for the first set at 5-3, but couldn’t take advantage and Tennessee held to win the opening set.
‘”It was a close match all the way through,” said Inglot. “We let them into the match too quickly as I was broken in the second game after being up 40-0. By the end of the first set, I thought we were playing better and we were creeping back into the match.”
Just like in their first round match against the top seeded team from Ole Miss and their semifinal win over North Carolina, Inglot and Shabaz looked to rally after losing the first set. The second set featured strong serving from both sides as neither team faced a break point and just one game went to deuce. The set went to a tiebreaker with the Volunteers looking for a title and the Cavaliers looking for a decisive third set. The UVa team went up a mini-break a 2-1 when Smith’s volley went into the net. That was all the Cavalier duo needed as they won all the points on their serve and won set point off of Sandgren’s to take the tiebreaker 7-4.
“Throughout the second set, we kept saying that if we could somehow pull out this set and get it to the third, we liked our chances,” said Shabaz. “Dom hit some big returns, especially in the tiebreaker. At 1-1, Davey hit a good serve and Dom ripped a return at J.P. and he missed the volley. We took care of our serves in the breaker and won it to get to the third set.”
Inglot and Shabaz took the momentum of the tiebreaker to take an early lead in the third set. With Sandgren serving at 1-1, the Cavalier team got three break points at 0-40. The Volunteers rebounded to win the next three points to get back to deuce, but the Cavaliers followed by winning the next two for their only break of the match and a 2-1 lead. The teams held serve over the next eight games to put the match on Shabaz’s racquet at 5-4. In the final game, he hit two aces and two service winners to hold at love and clinch the championship.
“Deep down, at 4-3, I knew if Dom could hold I was confident to be serving for the match,” said Shabaz. I didn’t think we would break J.P. at 5-3 since we hadn’t had many looks on his serve all day. I had been serving well and knew I could get it done. On the first point, I was going to go up the T, but Dom told me to go wide. I took his advice and hit a winner. It was a good call by him and got that game off to a good start.”
The win was Inglot and Shabaz’s 41st win of the season, giving them sole possession of the Virginia school record for a season. They had entered the match tied with Houston Barrick and Sanam Singh, who had 40 this season.
The title was the first doubles championship for the ACC. Inglot and Shabaz were the first ACC team to reach the final since the start of the modern NCAA Individual Championships in 1978.
“I’m so happy for Dom,” said Shabaz. “As a senior, for him to end his career like this is great. It takes away a bit of the disappointment of losing in the team tournament. We’re just so happy right now. From the time you are a little kid and start playing tennis, you dream of winning championships like this.”
Inglot finishes his career with a singles record of 62-39 and a doubles record of 88-24. He is a three-time All-American (twice in singles, once in doubles), the third highest total in Virginia history.
“This title means a lot to me,” said Inglot. “My time at Virginia has been great. Over the past three years we have come so close to winning a championship as a team, I only wish I could have won one with them. I am proud to share this honor with Michael, as well as our coaches, teammates, support staff and fans that helped us get here. To end my career with this championship is an incredible feeling.”
With the title, Virginia has won an NCAA Individual Championship for the third consecutive year. Former Cavalier Somdev Devvarman won the 2007 and 2008 NCAA Singles Championships. The last school to win NCAA Individual titles in three consecutive years was Stanford from 1998-2000.
“These titles are a testament to the hard work put into this program,” said Boland. “From the coaching staff, especially all the hard work of Tony (Bresky) and Derek (Schwandt), to the players, the administration, the support staff, everyone associated with our program, these are the days when all that dedication and hard work pays off. This is a great way to end our season. For the third straight year, we have won the final match we have played. This program keeps growing and keeps getting stronger and we know that if we continue that hard work that there will be more success in the future.”