By Jeff White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Streak began on May 14, 2006, at the Boar’s Head Sports Club, where the UVa men’s tennis team edged Wake Forest 4-2 in a fiercely contested match in the NCAA tournament’s second round.
When it will end, no one knows. Virginia hosts Georgia Tech at noon Saturday, and by 3 p.m. Brian Boland’s team almost certainly will have recorded its 101st consecutive victory against ACC competition.
No. 100 came Friday at the Snyder Tennis Center, where top-ranked UVa handled No. 25 Clemson 7-0 on a breezy, sunny spring afternoon.
In ACC history, only one program in any sport has had a longer winning streak. Duke won 116 straight matches in women’s tennis from 1989 to 2000.
“It says a lot for what [Coach] Boland’s done for the program, for what the past players have done, and for what we’re doing. I think it’s pretty cool as a recruiting tool for the players coming in as well.”
Among those attracted by the Wahoos’ sustained success was Mac Styslinger, a freshman from Birmingham, Ala. Styslinger has been around for only seven of the 100 consecutive ACC victories, but he clinched the historic win for the Wahoos (18-0 overall) on Friday with a two-set win at No. 5 singles.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know,” Styslinger said. “I wasn’t looking at the scoreboard, so it was kind of cool to realize, once I finished, that I clinched. Really cool.”
Among those who stopped by to watch Friday were UVa athletics director Craig Littlepage, men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett and assistants Jason Williford and Ron Sanchez, field hockey coach Michele Madison, assistant football coach Anthony Poindexter, former men’s tennis coach Gordon Burris and several current student-athletes, among them All-American women’s soccer player Morgan Brian.
Nothing they saw should have surprised them. Clemson (15-5, 4-3) is a strong team, but there was little suspense in this one, as is usually the case when Virginia takes on an ACC opponent.
This is Boland’s 12th season at UVa, and his team hasn’t lost to an ACC foe since falling 4-3 to Duke in the final of the 2006 conference tournament.
Along the way, he’s coached such standouts as Somdev Devvarman, Marko Miklo, Doug Stewart, Treat Huey, Dominic Inglot, Sanam Singh, Michael Shabaz and Drew Courtney. Devvarman was a two-time NCAA singles champion. Inglot and Shabaz won an NCAA doubles title, as did Courtney and Shabaz. Virginia’s current stars include Jenkins, junior Alex Domijan and sophomore Mitchell Frank.
“It’s a great thrill for us,” Boland said of the program’s latest milestone. “It’s a tribute to a lot of players that have come through this program and that are still here, their willingness to come out and put the orange and blue on every day and compete and work hard, day in and day out, and practice, and not only make themselves better, but make others around them better.
“It’s been a great journey, and hopefully we’re just getting started.”
Jenkins said: “Our goal right now is the NCAA title, so 100 helps on the way.”
UVa, of course, advanced to the NCAA final in 2011 and again last year, losing to Southern California each time. In February, however, the Cavaliers beat the Trojans 4-2 in Seattle to capture the ITA national indoor title for the fifth time.
“We’ve had a ton of consistency from the beginning of the season all the way to now,” Jenkins said. “It’s a long season, and to be able to stay strong like we’re doing, I’m sure our opponents feel that.”
Of Virginia’s 100 consecutive ACC victories, only 10 have been by a 4-3 score. Seventy-three have come in the regular season, 18 in the ACC tournament, eight in the NCAAs and one in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.
Boland said Wednesday that his teams’ ability to avoid letdowns is “the single thing that I’m most proud of with our program, outside of the players’ success in life and academics and the way they conduct themselves. In terms of our tennis, and the success we’ve had as a program, it’s just the consistency.
“There’s a culture of competitiveness here. There’s an environment within our program that when you put the orange and blue on, you come to play, you focus, you’re there to work.”
VIRGINIA 7, CLEMSON 0
Doubles —1) No. 2 Jenkins/Styslinger (UVa) def. No. 22 Y. Maden/D. Maden 9-8(4)2) No. 13 Frank/Domijan (UVa) def. Rigsby/Wibowo 9-8(4)3) No. 31 Justin Shane/J.Uriguen (UVa) def. Harrington/Meza 8-3
Singles —1) No. 2 Jarmere Jenkins (UVa) def. No. 24 Yannick Maden 6-3, 7-6(6) 2) No. 1 Alex Domijan (UVa) def. Hunter Harrington 7-6(0), 5-7, 6-3 3) No. 37 Mitchell Frank (UVa) def. Gerardo Meza 6-3, 6-0 4) No. 49 Ryan Shane (UVa) def. Dominique Maden 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 5) No. 22 Mac Styslinger (UVa) def. Zachary Rigsby 7-6(6), 6-4 6) Julen Uriguen (UVa) def. Austin Ansari 6-0, 6-2