ATHENS, Ga. – All four members of the Virginia men’s tennis team competing in the NCAA Singles Championship won their first round match on Wednesday at the Dan Magill Tennis Center. Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.), Sanam Singh (Chandigarh, India), Jarmere Jenkins (College Park, Ga.) and Drew Courtney (Clifton, Va.) all advanced to the round of 32.
Virginia tied the NCAA Singles Championship record with four players in the round of 32. The Cavaliers are the sixth school in history to accomplish the feat. They join 2001 Duke (Ramsey Smith, Marko Cerenko, Andres Pedroso and Philip King), 1998 Stanford (Mike Bryan, Bob Bryan, Paul Goldstein and Ryan Wolters), 1984 USC (Rick Leach, Todd Witsken, Jorge Lozano and Matt Anger), 1978 USC (Glenn Petrovic, Chris Lewis, Robert Van’t Hof and Charles Strode) and 1978 Trinity (Ben McKown, Larry Gottfried, Tony Giammalva and Erick Iskersky).
Shabaz, a 9-16 seed, won his opening round match 6-3, 6-2 over Jason Jung of Michigan. He used a break midway through the first set to win the opening set. In the second set, he jumped out to a 4-0 lead before serving it out for the 6-3, 6-2 win. The win was his first career NCAA Singles victory, as he competed in his second tournament. He will meet Haythem Abid of UCLA in the second round.
“It feels pretty good to get a win in the first round, especially to win it so quickly,” said Shabaz. “I served well today and am glad to be able to advance.”
Singh, also a 9-16 seed, defeated Bruno Rosa of Rice, 6-1 6-4 in the first round. Singh, a NCAA semifinalist last year, won the first set after winning the final five games of the set after it was one-all. He broke Rosa’s serve in the first game of the second and held that advantage for most of the set. Rosa broke back to draw even at 4-4, but Singh broke Rosa at love in the following game to go back up a break. He then held serve to close out the 6-4, 6-1 win. He will meet Ashley Watling of Tulsa in the second round.
“It obviously feels great to get a win in the first round,” said Singh. “Rosa is a great player and I knew I had to play well today. I started really strong in the first set. I had a little lapse in the second set when he broke me, but I was able to break right back. I am just trying to take the tournament match-by-match and look forward to tomorrow.”
Jenkins, who joined Somdev Devvarman as the only Cavalier first-years to win a match in the NCAA Singles Championship, topped Matt Brooklyn of UCLA 6-4, 7-6(3) in the first round. It was a rematch of Brooklyn’s 6-4, 6-3 win when the two met three days earlier in the Cavaliers’ 4-2 win over UCLA in the quarterfinals of the team tournament. Jenkins twice went down a break in the first set, just to break back in ensuing game. He held at 4-4 in the first set before breaking Brooklyn’s serve again to take the opening set 6-4. The second set remained on serve until 4-3 when Jenkins broke to take a 5-3 lead. However, serving for the match, Jenkins fell during a point and needed a short medical timeout. Brooklyn broke back in that game and the set went to a tiebreaker. In the breaker, Jenkins jumped out to a 5-1 lead and won it 7-3 to complete the 6-4, 7-6(3) win. He plays Marcel Thiemann of Ole Miss in the second round. Thiemann upset sixth-seeded Austin Krajicek of Texas A&M in the first round.
“It feels great to get a win in my first NCAA match,” said Jenkins. “I think it was somewhat of an advantage that I had just played him a few days earlier and I knew what his game was. It was also a little nice to get a little revenge for the first match. When I was serving for the match, I tweaked my ankle a little bit, but it turned out to be nothing big. In the breaker I was able to get up big early and just kept the pressure on him.”
Courtney, also making his NCAA Singles debut, needed just 52 minutes to top Alex Musialek of Kentucky 6-1, 6-3. He served well throughout the match, losing just five points on his serve in the entire match. He broke Musialek’s serve three times in the first set and once in the second set for the 6-1, 6-3 win. He will play Austin Childs of Louisville in the second round, who upset third-seeded John-Patrick Smith of Tennessee in the first round.
“With it being my first tournament, I wanted to come out and start well,” said Courtney. “I wasn’t nervous, I was just excited to get out there and play. I played well and it was great to win in quick fashion,”
In addition to the four players competing in the second round of singles on Thursday, two players will also start play in the NCAA Doubles Championship. The team of Courtney and Shabaz meet No. 5-8 seed Krajieck and Jeff Dadamo of Texas A&M in the first round.