COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 16 Virginia men’s tennis team (4-0) picked up a 4-3 victory over No. 9 Texas A&M (3-1) in the final match of ITA Kickoff Weekend at the Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas.
The victory earns the Cavaliers a spot in the 16-team field of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, being held Feb. 15-18 in Chicago, Ill. Illinois.
The Cavaliers won the doubles point to take an early lead, but battled with the Aggies through the singles matches. Junior Carl Soderlund (Stockholm, Sweden) broke a 3-3 deadlock with a victory on the No. 2 court to give the Cavaliers the victory.
“Congratulations to the Texas A&M Aggies for an incredible match,” said Virginia head coach Andres Pedroso. “Our guys fought to the bitter end and managed the ups and downs with great composure. Mentality is something that we talk about a lot and that skill is what got us the win today across the board.”
The two teams battled from the start. In doubles, sophomore Gianni Ross (Chicago, Ill.) and senior Aswin Lizen (Douglas, Isle of Man) edged their competition on court two, 6-4, to give UVA the early advantage. The other two courts were tied, with Söderlund and sophomore Matthew Lord (Bloomfield, Conn.) heading to a tiedbreaker on court one. The UVA duo prevailed 7-5 to clinch the point for the Cavaliers.
In singles, five of the six courts were three-set matches. Texas A&M picked up a straight-set victory on court one to tie the match 1-1. The Aggies took a 2-1 lead after also getting a victory on court three. Freshman Ryan Goetz (Greenlawn, N.Y.) picked up a victory on court six to even the match. Goetz had cruised through his first set 6-1, but dropped his second by that same score. He closed out his match with a 6-3 victory in the third set.
Senior Henrik Wiersholm (Kirkland, Wash.) followed with a victory on court four. Wiersholm also cruised to a 6-1 first-set victory, but then fell 6-2 in the second set. Wiersholm won a deuce point to take his third set 6-4.
After Lizen was edged 7-5 in his third set on court five, the fate of the match rested on Söderlund’s shoulders on court two. He had lost his first set, 6-1, but won the second 7-5 to force the third set. Söderlund won a pair of big deuce points in the final set, the first putting him ahead 4-2. With Juan Carlos Aguilar serving at 5-3, Söderlund came back from down 40-15 to win another deuce point to break Aguilar and seal the victory for the Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers have won six ITA National Team Indoor Championships, including four-straight from 2008 to 2011 and most recently in 2017 when the tournament was held in Charlottesville. Virginia has only failed to advance out of ITA Kickoff Weekend once in the 11-year history of the format.