CHARLOTTESVILLE – The Virginia men’s tennis team won its third consecutive ITA National Team Indoor Championship, defeating Tennessee 4-1 in the 2010 tournament final on Monday afternoon at the Boyd Tinsley Courts at the Boar’s Head Sports Club. The second-seeded Cavaliers used strong singles play to overcome an early deficit and defeat the fifth-seeded Volunteers.
“Every championship feels just as fulfilling as the previous ones,” said Virginia head coach Brian Boland. “I am so happy for this entire group of guys who worked so hard and were resilient through some ups and downs earlier in the season. They know what we need to do to be successful and this is a reward that they richly deserve.”
The Cavaliers (8-1) fell behind early 1-0 as Tennessee (10-1) dominated doubles play. John-Patrick Smith and Davey Sandgren defeated Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.) and Drew Courtney (Clifton, Va.) 8-1 at the No. 1 position and Boris Conkic and Rhyne Williams downed Houston Barrick (Brentwood, Tenn.) and Jarmere Jenkins (College Park, Ga.) 8-2 at No. 2 doubles.
“I was pretty hard on the guys after doubles,” said Boland. “They listened and responded accordingly. We needed to do a much better job than we were doing. They came out believing again and knew what their responsibility was in singles. I was proud of how we refocused and were ready to go in singles.”
Virginia rebounded in singles and got off to a quick start, winning five of the six first sets. The Cavaliers quickly finished off two of the wins to take a 2-1 lead. Barrick tied the match with his 6-2, 6-4 win over Matteo Fago at No. 5 singles. Fellow co-captain Lee Singer (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) gave the Cavaliers the lead with his 6-2, 7-5 win over Davey Sandgren at the No. 6 position.
“We have two senior captains at the bottom of the lineup that are so determined and battle-tested,” said Boland. “They stayed composed and knew what they needed to do to win. They played to their strengths and to the weaknesses of their opponents. Lee and Houston really led by example with their play today.”
In a battle of two of the top three ranked players in the country, the Cavaliers took a 3-1 lead in the match when No. 3 ranked Shabaz downed No. 2 ranked Smith 6-4, 6-4. The win snapped Smith’s 13-match dual match winning streak, dating back to last season.
“Michael is a big time player,” said Boland. “He rises to the occasion. When the stakes are the highest, he raises the level of his play. When it comes to crunch time, he knows what it takes to be successful. He came up big for us today and I am not surprised at all by that.”
The victory was clinched at No. 4 singles by Courtney, who topped Tennys Sandgren 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. It marked the second consecutive year that Courtney won the match to clinch the ITA National Team Indoor final.
“I knew I was serving for the whole team match,” said Courtney. “Coach just told me to hit some big serves to close it out and fortunately I was able to do that. It felt great to be able to clinch it. To do it in our house and in front of our fans made it even more special. This atmosphere is something I will never forget.”
Virginia becomes the second team in history to win three consecutive ITA National Team Indoor Championships. Stanford won the first three tournaments held from 1973-76.
The Cavaliers return to action on Saturday when they host a doubleheader at the Boyd Tinsley Courts. Virginia hosts No. 34 LSU at 1 p.m. and Boston College at 6 p.m.
No. 2 Virginia 4, No. 5 Tennessee 1
1. #7 Smith/D.Sandgren (UT) def. Courtney/Shabaz (UVa) 8-1
2. #12 Williams/Conkic (UT) def. Barrick/Jenkins (UVa) 8-2
3. Singh/Singer (UVa) vs. T.Sandgren/Fago (UT) 4-4 DNF
1. #3 Michael Shabaz (UVa) def. #2 John-Patrick Smith (UT) 6-4, 6-4
2. #12 Sanam Singh (UVa) vs. #68 Boris Conkic (UT) 6-4, 5-7, 0-0 DNF
3. #16 Jarmere Jenkins (UVa) vs. #22 Rhyne Williams (UT) 5-7, 6-4, 1-1 DNF
4. #31 Drew Courtney (UVa) def. Tennys Sandgren (UT) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
5. #58 Houston Barrick (UVa) def. Matteo Fago (UT) 6-2, 6-4
6. #28 Lee Singer (UVa) def. Davey Sandgren (UT) 6-2, 7-5
Order of Finish: