By Jeff White (

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — On the evening of April 21, after the bus carrying the University of Virginia men’s tennis team arrived back at the Boar’s Head Resort, Chris Rodesch reached into his bag, pulled out his running shoes and then put in some miles to work off his frustration.

The Cavaliers don’t lose often, but their streak of 62 consecutive wins against ACC opponents had ended that afternoon. In the ACC tournament final, sixth-seeded Florida State had rallied for a stunning 4-3 victory over top-seeded UVA in Cary, N.C.

“So that was the type of response that our No. 1 player had to that loss,” Virginia head coach Andres Pedroso said Saturday night. “And we just got right back to work.”

The Wahoos returned to competition Friday and blanked NJIT 4-0 in the NCAA tournament’s first round. That match was played outdoors at the Virginia Tennis Facility at the Boar’s Head. Wet weather forced the Hoos to move their second-round match indoors Saturday, but that didn’t deter them.

Third-seeded Virginia, which is seeking a third straight NCAA championship, defeated VCU 4-0 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the 18th time in the past 19 tournaments.

The Cavaliers (24-5) will be back at the Boar’s Head on Friday to face unseeded South Carolina (19-14) in an NCAA super regional. The Gamecocks upset No. 14 seed NC State 4-3 in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday night.

“In my opinion, and I’m biased, I think we have the most passionate tennis community in college tennis,” Pedroso said, “and so playing at the Boar’s Head, indoor or outdoor, it’s always really special. People have made this an integral part of their lives and, and so it’s an honor to be out here and we appreciate it and they make the student-athlete experience that much more special for the guys.”

In the April 21 match in Cary, the Cavaliers appeared headed for their fourth consecutive ACC title when, at No. 1 singles, Rodesch was serving up 5-4 in the third set. But Antoine Cornut-Chauvrallied to win the set 7-5, and the Hoos headed home as ACC runners-up.

“It was a few tough days to get over it,” Rodesch recalled Saturday. “But now we are fully locked in. We had some tough talks. We have done some adjustments. I think it will help us in the NCAA tournament. Maybe it’s good for us. Hopefully it turns out to be a great loss after all.”

The loss stung, but “it’s tennis,” Rodesch said, “it’s sports, and you have to deal with it. And then at the end, you also have to give credit to the other guy. I served two bombs on the match points and he had really good returns. So it’s sports, and we have to move on. And now it’s NCAA time.”

The loss was Virginia’s first to an ACC opponent since Feb. 13, 2021.

“That was a long streak we had going, and it was going to end at some point,” said Pedroso, who returned to UVA in the spring of 2017 to become director of tennis and head men’s coach.

“We had four match points on our racket, and we missed a couple forehands by a hair. So that’s just the way it goes. And so I left totally at peace [with the result].”

Alex Kiefer (left) and Dylan Dietrich

Against VCU (16-10), the Cavalier won a tough doubles point and then took control in singles. After the teams split at Nos. 1 and 2 doubles, freshman Dylan Dietrich and senior Alex Kiefer rallied to win a third-set tiebreaker at No. 3 in a match that lasted nearly an hour.

“We were in some tough spots,” Pedroso said, “and they hung in there. That’s what this time of year is all about: just hanging in there and staying the course and just waiting for your opportunity. So they did that.”

Winning the doubles point “gave us some momentum,” Pedroso said, “and guys rode that momentum and finished strong at the end in singles.”

At No. 4 singles, senior Jeffrey von der Schulenburg won 6-1, 6-2 to push Virginia’s lead to 2-0, and then Rodesch won 7-5, 6-2 at No. 1.

“I started off a bit slow,” Rodesch said, “but I found it at the end.”

At No. 6, sophomore Mans Dahlberg clinched the victory for the Hoos with a 6-3, 6-1 win.

Dietrich, who plays No. 3 singles, didn’t get a chance to finish his match, but he made a strong impression. After falling behind 5-0 against Oscar Pinto Sansano, he’d fought back to win the first set 7-5.

“He believes,” Pedroso said of Dietrich, the ACC Freshman of the Year. “He’s a great competitor. He’s a great ball-striker. But more importantly, he believes and he gives himself a chance every time. There’s never been a match this year where he’s just thrown in the towel. He’s fought till the end every single time and he’s a good tennis player. So when you have that combination, you’re gonna be tough to beat.”

Most players, Pedroso said, would have effectively conceded the set when trailing 5-0, “but Dylan’s a little different. And so he said, ‘This is a challenge. I’m going to try and get the set and break the guy’s spirit.’ ”

Dietrich is the lone first-year in the Cavaliers’ lineup. The nucleus of the team is a senior class—Rodesch, Kiefer, von der Schulenburg and Iñaki Montes—that wants to collect one more NCAA title before leaving Grounds.

“The past two or three years, they were on their way to being the leaders,” Pedroso said. “Now it’s their turn to lead.”

The key to success in the NCAAs, Rodesch said, is trusting “what you’ve built up over the course of the year, over the last five months. I think we can beat anybody. We have to trust it. And at the end of the day, it’s also culture, it’s brotherhood. You have to trust the other guy who plays next to you. It’s a lot of components and you try to build it up over the year. We’ve been trying to do that, and hopefully it works out at the end.”

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