Virginia Men's Tennis: NCAA Champions
– 2007 NCAA Singles Champion Somdev Devvarman became the first men’s tennis player in ACC history to win an NCAA Singles Championship, downing Georgia’s John Isner in the 2007 final at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. In one of the most dramatic finals in the 123-year history of the tournament, Devvarman scored a 7-6(7), 4-6, 7-6(2) win over the tournament’s No. 1 seed.
The first set was indicative of how close the match would be. Both second-seeded Devvarman and top-seeded Isner held in each of their six service games, with neither losing any more than two points in any game. With the first set on the line, Devvarman opened up an early 3-1 lead in the tiebreaker. Isner rallied to draw even, tying the breaker at 4-4. Devvarman won the next two points, to earn two set points. However, Isner would win the next three points to take a 7-6 lead and earn his own set point. Devvarman won the next two points on his serve to take an 8-7 lead for his third set point. Up 8-7, Devvarman took advantage of a second serve from Isner and hit a return winner past the Bulldog to take the opening set.
The second set began much like the first, with neither player in danger of losing his serve in the first six games. Serving at 3-3, Devvarman was broken by Isner, who took advantage of the first break point of the match to go up 4-3. The players held serve for the remainder of the set, as Isner forced a third and deciding set by taking the second, 6-4.
The final set featured more of the same from both players, as neither player could even force a deuce on the other’s serve. With the final set tied at 6-6, the national championship came down to a tiebreaker. At 1-1 in the tiebreaker, Devvarman made a difficult return of a big Isner serve that caught the Georgia player off guard as he returned it into the net. Devvarman used that momentum to win the next three points, to take a 5-1 lead at the changeover. After an Isner ace brought him to 5-2, Devvarman won the following point to give him four championship points at 6-2. On the first of those points, as he hit an ace up the middle to close out the 7-6(7), 4-6, 7-6(2) win.
– 2008 NCAA Singles Champion Somdev Devvarman concluded his collegiate career by winning his second consecutive NCAA Singles Championship with a 6-3, 6-2 win over John-Patrick Smith of Tennessee in the 2008 final at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla. Devvarman needed barely an hour to win the match and complete a resume that ranks among the greatest in collegiate tennis history.
With the victory, Devvarman became the 13th player in the 124-year history of the tournament to win consecutive titles, and just the fourth to do so in the past 50 years. He joined Georgia’s Mikael Pernfors (1984 and 1985) and Matias Boeker (2001 and 2002) to win consecutive NCAA Singles Championships since the current 64-player tournament format was adopted in 1977. Devvarman became the first player since USC’s Dennis Ralston (1963 and 1964) to win consecutive titles without winning at least one of them on his home courts. He also joined Arizona State’s Sargin Sargsian (1995) and UCLA’s Benjamin Kohlloeffel (2006) as the only players to win the ITA National Indoor Singles Championship and NCAA Singles Championship in the same season. The win was also his 18th career NCAA Singles Tournament victory, extending his record for most in the current tournament format.
The match against Smith, the first unseeded player to reach the final since Virginia’s Brian Vahaly in 2001, was close early in the first set. Neither player had a chance to break until Devvarman took advantage of the match’s first break point opportunity to take a 5-3 lead. He held serve in the ensuing game to win the first set 6-3.
In the second set, Devvarman’s momentum continued as he won a five-deuce game to break Smith’s serve in the first game of the set. After holding in his first service game, he broke Smith’s serve again to lead 3-0. He held that two-break advantage the remainder of the set and closed out the 6-3, 6-2 win.
Devvarman ended the season with a 44-1 singles record, tying the school record for wins in a season he set a year before. He was the first NCAA Singles Champion to finish the season with one or fewer losses since UCLA’s Jimmy Connors went undefeated in 1971. Since then, NCAA Champions have included Georgia’s Pernfors, Stanford’s John McEnroe, Stanford’s Tim Mayotte, and Texas’s Kevin Curren, all of whom went on to be ranked in the world top 20, but lost multiple times in college during their championship season.
Dominic Inglot & Michael Shabaz
– 2009 NCAA Doubles Champions Dominic Inglot and Michael Shabaz 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 2009 final at the Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas.
Inglot and Shabaz were 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 was 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 1977.
Drew Courtney & Michael Shabaz
– 2010 NCAA Doubles Champions The Virginia men’s tennis program won its fourth individual NCAA Championship as the doubles team of Michael Shabaz and Drew Courtney won the 2010 NCAA Doubles Championship at the Dan Magill Tennis Center. The unseeded Cavalier duo, ranked No. 14 nationally entering the tournament, topped second-seeded John-Patrick Smith and Davey Sandgren of Tennessee in the final, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-3.
It is the second consecutive doubles title for Shabaz, who won the 2009 championship with Dominic Inglot, also defeating the Volunteer team of Smith and Sandgren in the final.
In this year’s final, the Cavalier team jumped out to a quick start, breaking Sandgren’s serve in the opening game. They held that advantage until Shabaz was broken at 5-4 when he was serving for the opening set. The set went to a tiebreaker, which the Tennessee duo won 7-4 to take the first set.
Courtney and Shabaz regrouped in the second set and went up a break when they broke Sandgren’s serve for a 3-1 lead. They held that advantage until they broke Sandgren’s serve again to close out the second set 6-2.
The Cavalier team took a break lead early in the final set when they broke Sandgren’s serve for the third consecutive time for a 3-1 lead. Each side held serve in the next four games to set up Courtney serving for the match at 5-3. He hit two service winners and two aces, including one on match point, to seal the victory.
Shabaz becomes the first player since Matt Lucena of California to win consecutive doubles titles. Lucena won the 1990 and 1991 titles, also accomplishing the feat by playing with different partners.
It is the fourth consecutive year that Virginia has won a NCAA individual championship. Somdev Devavrman won the singles title in 2007 and 2008 before Shabaz/Inglot and Shabaz/Courtney have won the doubles title the past two years. Virginia is the first school to win individual titles in four consecutive years since USC did so in 1961-64.