ATHENS, Ga. – The top-seeded Virginia men’s tennis team advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament for the third time in school history with a 4-2 win over No. 9 UCLA in a quarterfinal on Sunday afternoon at the Dan Magill Tennis Center. The Cavaliers (39-1) rallied from dropping the doubles point with strong singles play to advance to Monday’s semifinals against USC.
“It was a great match and we are certainly thrilled with the outcome,” said head coach Brian Boland. “UCLA is a great team and they gave us everything they had today. I am really proud of effort, especially battling back after dropping the doubles point.”
UCLA (17-7) took a 1-0 lead by winning the doubles point. It was only the fifth time this season the Cavaliers dropped the opening point. Haythem Abid and Matt Brooklyn gave the Bruins the early edge with an 8-2 win at No. 2 over Houston Barrick (Brentwood, Tenn.) and Sanam Singh (Chandigarh, India). Amit Inbar and Nick Meister rallied from a 7-4 deficit at No. 1 to top Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.) and Drew Courtney (Clifton, Va.) in a tiebreaker, 9-8(4), and give UCLA the early edge.
“We have won so many doubles points this year, so I thought it was good for us to have to battle back,” said Boland. “These guys played with a lot of resilience and toughness. You can’t assume you have won or lost a match because you won or lost doubles. It is just one point. It can give you momentum, but ultimately it is what you make of it. Just like a lot of other teams, we are much tougher to beat when we win the doubles. But after losing it today, I had all the confidence that we could win that match and so did the guys.”
In singles, the Cavaliers drew even in the match as Shabaz cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Meister at the top position. Courtney gave Virginia the lead, 2-1, when he completed a 6-3, 7-5 win over Inbar at No. 4. Singh extended the advantage to 3-1 with his 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 win over Abid at No. 2. Brooklyn cut the lead in half, 3-2, as he topped Jarmere Jenkins (College Park, Ga.) 6-4, 6-3 at No. 3. Julen Uriguen (Guatemala City, Guatemala) secured the clinching point for Virginia as he rallied from dropping the first set for a 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 win over Maxime Tabatroung at No. 6.
“I think tough matches really show the true sides of teams,” said Shabaz. “It is always good to be tested and come through. Obviously you don’t want to put yourself in a big hole, but that said, when we have gotten behind this year, we have battled and fought our way back. We are excited for another chance tomorrow.”
Virginia’s semifinal match with the fifth-seeded Trojans will begin at 4 p.m. on Monday at the Dan Magill Tennis Center.
No. 1 Virginia 4, No. 9 UCLA 2
1. #16 Inbar/Meister (UCLA) def. #14 ShabazCourtney (UVa) 9-8 (4)
2. Abid/Brooklyn (UCLA) def. #41 Barrick/Singh (UVa) 8-2
3. Singer/Jenkins (UVa) led Brigham/Seguso (UCLA) 8-7 DNF
1. #11 Michael Shabaz (UVa) def. #71 Nick Meister (UCLA) 6-3, 6-2
2. #14 Sanam Singh (UVa) def. #51 Haythem Abid (UCLA) 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
3. #58 Matt Brooklyn (UCLA) def. #57 Jarmere Jenkins (UVa) 6-4, 6-3
4. #46 Drew Courtney (UVa) def. #117 Amit Inbar (UCLA) 6-3, 7-5
5. Holden Seguso (UCLA) led #106 Houston Barrick (UVa) 6-2, 4-6, 3-2 DNF
6. Julen Uriguen (UVa) def. Maxime Tabatruong (UCLA) 5-7, 6-2, 6-0
Order of Finish: