May 22, 2017
ATHENS, Ga. – No. 2 Virginia (33-1) continued its NCAA team title defense with a 4-2 victory over No. 3 Ohio State (33-4) in the semifinals of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships on Monday (May 22) at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
The Cavaliers held a 3-1 lead and junior Henrik Wiersholm (Kirkland, Wash.) was serving for match point on court six when rain and lightning sent the match into a delay. Four hours and two minutes later, the match resumed on the indoor courts. Ohio State’s Mikael Torpegaard, who also was serving for match point in a tiebreaker on court one, finished off his victory to make the score 3-2 right before Wiersholm won his match point to clinch the victory for the Cavaliers.
Virginia will face fellow ACC school No. 9 North Carolina (29-4) on Tuesday, May 23 at 1 p.m. in the championship match. The final will be televised live on ESPNU.
“We just had to keep things simple and make sure that we took care of our bodies and prepared for each point,” said Virginia head coach Brian Boland. “That is what it comes down to. You can’t look ahead. You have to focus on the present and I thought the players did a good job of that and they stayed relaxed and calm in the bus during the delay. I was pleased with how we handled it. Congrats to Ohio State on a great season. They had a great run here and that was a great match.”
Ohio State started things off with a 6-4 victory at No. 3 doubles. Seniors Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (Charlotte, N.C.) and Alexander Ritschard (Zurich, Switzerland) evened things up with a 6-4 victory at No. 2. The top doubles court came down to a tiebreaker with Ohio State picking up a 7-3 victory to clinch the point.
The Cavaliers came charging back in singles. Kwiatkowski evened the score with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over J.J. Wolf at No. 2. Junior Collin Altamirano (Sacramento, Calif.) put UVA up 2-1 with a 6-0, 6-3 victory on court four. Senior J.C. Aragone (Yorba Linda, Calif.) put the Cavaliers on the brink of victory with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Herkko Pollanen on court five.
Ritschard dropped his first set on court one, 6-2, but won his second set 6-2 to force a third set against Torpegaard, who is currently ranked No. 2 in the ITA singles rankings. The two battled in the third set, trading breaks before reaching a 6-6 deadlock. Torpegaard held a 6-3 lead in the deciding tiebreaker before the rain delay and served for the 7-3 victory after the break.
Freshman Carl Soderlund (Stockholm, Sweden) trailed 4-1 in the first set of his match against No. 9 Hugo Di Feo, but rallied to take the set 7-5. Di Feo won the second, 6-4, and was up 2-1 in the third when the delay came.
Wiersholm edged Kyle Seelig, 7-5, in the first set. Wiersholm picked up a break in the second set and was serving for the match with a 5-4 lead, but Seelig broke back and tied it 5-5. Wiersholm broke Seelig’s serve and took a 6-5 lead and was up 40-30 on Seelig in the final game when play was halted. It took less than two minutes once play resumed for Wiersholm to win the point and clinch the match.
“I was on the court pretty frantically trying to rush him to go [to try to beat the rain],” Wiersholm said. “He was slowing down, but I wanted to play the point. Things like that happen and you have to be prepared for that and we talk about it all the time. Actually, coach had already talked about how in the past here in Athens there had been rain and had prepared us mentally for the possibility of it. In the moment when it happened, I was trying to rush but then I depressurized, relaxed with the guys and got some fuel in me. We waited it out and I was ready to go from the first point. It all panned out well for us.”
The Cavaliers have won three of the last four NCAA titles (2013, 15 and 16) and have advanced to the NCAA Championship match in six of the last seven seasons. This is North Carolina’s first trip to the final.
The Cavaliers and the Tar Heels have faced one another three times this season. Virginia won 4-0 in the semifinals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship and then picked up 4-3 victories in the regular-season meeting and the semifinals of the ACC Championship. Three of North Carolina’s four losses this season have come against Virginia.
#2 Virginia 4, #3 Ohio State 2
1. #2 Mikael Torpegaard (OSU) def. #91 Alexander Ritschard (VA) 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-3)
2. #14 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (VA) def. #46 JJ Wolf (OSU) 6-2, 6-2
3. Carl Soderlund (VA) vs. #9 Hugo Di Feo (OSU) 7-5, 4-6, 1-2, unfinished
4. #40 Collin Altamirano (VA) def. Martin Joyce (OSU) 6-0, 6-3
5. #109 J.C. Aragone (VA) def. Herkko Pollanen (OSU) 6-3, 6-3
6. #102 Henrik Wiersholm (VA) def. Kyle Seelig (OSU) 7-5, 7-5
1. #16 Mikael Torpegaard/Herkko Pollanen (OSU) def. #17 Luca Corinteli/Carl Soderlund (VA) 7-6 (7-3)
2. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski/Alexander Ritschard (VA) def. #30 Hugo Di Feo/Martin Joyce (OSU) 6-4
3. JJ Wolf/Hunter Tubert (OSU) def. J.C. Aragone/Collin Altamirano (VA) 6-4
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (2,4,5,1,6)
4:02 rain delay before set points on court 1 and 6