ATHENS, Ga. – The top-seeded Virginia men’s tennis team had its season come to an end with a 4-2 loss to No. 5 USC in a national semifinal Monday at the Dan Magill Tennis Center. The Cavaliers (39-2) had their school-record 36-match winning streak snapped as they fell in the semifinals for the third time in four years.
“USC played a great match and we are disappointed with the outcome,” said head coach Brian Boland. “I thought we could get four points. I didn’t know where we would get them, but I thought we could win at every position. USC just was a little better today.”
USC (24-3), the reigning national champions, took a 1-0 lead by winning the doubles point. It was only the sixth time this season the Cavaliers dropped the opening point. Steve Johnson and Robert Farah used a late break to top Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.) and Drew Courtney (Clifton, Va.) at No. 1, 8-5. Seconds later, J.T. Sundling and Daniel Nguyen clinched the opening point for USC with an 8-6 win at No. 2 over Houston Barrick (Brentwood, Tenn.) and Sanam Singh (Chandigarh, India).
Unlike the day before, when the Cavaliers rallied in singles after dropping the doubles point to UCLA, the comeback against the Trojans fell short. Farah extended the USC lead to 2-0 with his 6-1, 7-6(9) win over Shabaz at the top position. Barrick cut the lead in half, 2-1, as he completed a 6-2, 7-6(8) win over Matt Kecki at No. 5. Peter Lucassen defeated Julen Uriguen (Guatemala City, Guatemala) 6-2, 6-3 at No. 6 to make the score 3-1 in favor of the Trojans. Jenkins closed the gap to 3-2 with his 6-3, 7-5 win over Jaak Poldma at No. 3. That was as close as the Cavaliers would get as Nguyen held off Courtney 7-6(9), 6-4 at No. 4 to clinch the match for USC.
“If you look back over the years, there is a tremendous amount of time and effort that people don’t see,” said Boland. “You put yourself in the best position you can to win a championship. Some things go your way and some things don’t.”
Four members of the Cavaliers will remain in Athens for the NCAA Individual Championships later this week. Shabaz, Singh, Jenkins and Courtney will compete in the singles tournament, which begins Wednesday, while the team of Shabaz and Courtney will compete in the doubles tournament, which begins Thursday.
No. 5 USC 4, No. 1 Virginia 2
1. #2 Farah/Johnson (USC) def. #14 ShabazCourtney (UVa) 8-5
2. Nguyen/Sundling (USC) def. #41 Barrick/Singh (UVa) 8-6
3. Singer/Jenkins (UVa) vs. McNaughton/Poldma (USC) 5-5 DNF
1. #9 Robert Farah (USC) def. #11 Michael Shabaz (UVa) 6-1, 7-6(9)
2. #14 Sanam Singh (UVa) led #3 Steve Johnson (USC) 6-4, 4-6, 2-1 DNF
3. #57 Jarmere Jenkins (UVa) def. #89 Jaak Poldma (USC) 6-3, 7-5
4. #83 Daniel Nguyen (USC) def. #46 Drew Courtney (UVa) 7-6(9), 6-4
5. #106 Houston Barrick (UVa) def. Matt Kecki (USC) 6-2, 7-6(8)
6. Peter Lucassen (USC) def. Julen Uriguen (UVa) 6-2, 6-3
Order of Finish: