CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The No. 7 Virginia men’s tennis team (28-5) defeated No. 8 Kentucky (26-9) by a 4-0 score in the final of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Tennis Team Championship on Sunday (May 22) at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Center in Champaign, Ill.
This is the fifth NCAA Championship for the program (2013, 2015-17) and the 31st overall team title for the Virginia athletics department.
Fifth-year senior Gianni Ross clinched the victory for the Cavaliers.
“It means a great deal to win the national championship,” said head coach Andres Pedroso. “I’m just so grateful. So grateful. It was definitely in the back of our minds. We’re always thinking National Championship at some point, but I didn’t know if it was gonna happen this year or year seven or year nine. I am super happy for these guys. They have evolved through the year after five losses in a row In February. So really happy for them.”
Ross and sophomore Jeffrey von der Schulenburg gave the Cavaliers an early edge with a 6-1 victory on doubles court three. Senior Ryan Goetz and sophomore Iñaki Montes clinched the point with a 6-3 victory on court two.
Kentucky took the first two first sets in singles, with No. 4 Liam Draxl winning 6-2 against sophomore Chris Rodesch on the top court and von der Schulenburg dropping his opener 6-2 against No. 33 Millen Hurrion, but the Cavaliers took the other four first sets including a 6-0 win on court four by Goetz and a 6-1 win by grad student Bar Botzer on court six.
Botzer was the first to close out his victory, downing JJ Mercer 6-1, 6-1 to put UVA ahead 2-0.
Von der Schulenburg took his second set against Hurrion to force a decider. Rodesch broke Draxl to win his second set 7-5, keeping Kentucky off the scoreboard.
Just like the previous day against Tennessee, the Cavaliers had three courts poised to pick up the final two points. Goetz and Montes were both serving for the win. Goetz was broken by Francois Musitelli, sending his match into a tiebreaker to decide the set. Montes was up 5-0, but was also broken, but closed out a 6-2, 6-2 win against No. 21 Gabriel Diallo on his next service to put UVA ahead 3-0.
Goetz battled in his tiebreaker on three while Ross began serving up 5-4 in the second set against Joshua Lapadat on five. Goetz won a point to go up 6-5 in his tiebreaker as a shot from Lapadat landed outside the baseline to give Ross the victory and the clinch for the Cavaliers.
Ross was named NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player. Ross, Montes, von der Schulenburg, Botzer, Goetz and Rodesch earned All-Tournament honors.
This is Virginia’s second time winning the NCAA Championship at the Khan Tennis Center. Illinois also hosted the tournament in 2013 when UVA won its first title. Virginia head coach Andres Pedroso was an assistant on the 2013 team. This is his first title as a head coach.
“It was surreal for the 15 to 20 minutes after the match ended, but I’m starting to believe it now,” Pedroso said. “These guys worked hard and they put themselves in a position to do it. So really proud of them. Our composure was huge.”
Virginia was the No. 7 seed in the championship, taking out the No. 2 seed, 2021 NCAA Champion Florida, 4-1 on Thursday night in the quarterfinals before topping No. 6 Tennessee by a 5-0 score on Saturday afternoon to advance to the championship match.
“I think what helped us was drawing Florida in the quarterfinals,” Pedroso said. “It was do-or-die. You either bring your best stuff or you’re gonna get knocked out. And it really forced us to elevate everything that we did. And so I really think it was the draw, having to show up and play our best tennis against arguably one of the two of the best teams in the country. I have a lot to thank the Gators for because they pushed us and they made us better.”
Botzer was a member of Wake Forest’s 2018 NCAA National Championship team. He has now won two NCAA titles with two different teams.
This is the sixth time an ACC school has won the championship and the fifth time in the last seven tournaments.
Virginia won its final 23 matches to close out the season, going from a 5-5 record in February to its final 28-5 mark.
Montes, Goetz, von der Schulenburg and Rodesch will begin play on Monday (May 23) in the NCAA Individual Championships. Rodesch, Montes and von der Schulenburg will all compete in the singles championship while Rodesch and Goetz are in the doubles draw.
No. 1 Singles: Liam Draxl, Kentucky
No. 2 Singles: Inaki Montes, Virginia
No. 3 Singles: Jeffrey von der Schulenburg, Virginia
No. 4 Singles: Francois Musitelli, Kentucky
No. 5 Singles: Gianni Ross, Virginia
No. 6 Singles: Bar Botzer, Virginia
No. 1 Doubles: Bar Botzer/Chris Rodesch, Virginia
No. 2 Doubles: Ryan Goetz/Inaki Montes, Virginia
No. 3 Doubles: Gianni Ross/Jeffrey von der Schulenburg, Virginia
Most Outstanding Player
Gianni Ross, Virginia
#7 Virginia 4, #8 Kentucky 0
- #30 Chris Rodesch (VA) vs. #4 Liam Draxl (UK) 2-6, 7-5, unfinished
- #39 Inaki Montes (VA) def. #21 Gabriel Diallo (UK) 6-2, 6-2
- #45 J vd Schulenburg (VA) vs. #33 Millen Hurrion (UK) 2-6, 6-3, 2-2, unfinished
- #96 Ryan Goetz (VA) vs. Francois Musitelli (UK) 6-0, 6-6 (6-5), unfinished
- Gianni Ross (VA) def. #113 Joshua Lapadat (UK) 6-4, 6-4
- Bar Botzer (VA) def. JJ Mercer (UK) 6-1, 6-1
- #61 Bar Botzer/Chris Rodesch (VA) vs. #55 Millen Hurrion/Francois Musitelli (UK) 4-4, unfinished
- Ryan Goetz/Inaki Montes (VA) def. Gabriel Diallo/Joshua Lapadat (UK) 6-3
- Gianni Ross/J vd Schulenburg (VA) def. Liam Draxl/Alexandre LeBlanc (UK) 6-1
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (6,2,5)
Highlights from the NCAA Championship match