Feb. 16, 2009

Courtesy of Georgia Athletics

CHICAGO -- Fifth-ranked Virginia won its second straight ITA Men's National Team Indoor title after posting a 4-1 victory over third-ranked Georgia here Monday.
 
In a contest between a pair of undefeated teams, the Cavaliers improved to 12-0 while the Bulldogs fell to 8-1. Georgia made its seventh all-time appearance in the national indoor finals and left knowing it has the type of team to contend for championships again this year.
 
"I can't say enough about our guys, it was anybody's match on every court, and they gave a championship effort," said Georgia coach Manuel Diaz. "A lot of the experts said we might be in for a down year but we showed we can compete with anybody in the country. I'm not saying it's going to be smooth this year but we definitely have the kind of guys who will fight hard every time out. We're ahead of schedule, and I like how we've got a close-knit group."
 
The Cavaliers won the doubles point to start the contest for the 11th time in 12 matches this year. The No. 2 team of Michael Shabaz and Dominic Inglot, ranked 27th-nationally, beat Christian Vitulli and Borja Malo 8-4. Meanwhile, the other two matches were at 6-all and eventually went to tiebreakers at 8-8.  Virginia's third-ranked duo of Houston Barrick and Sanam Singh edged  40th-ranked Nate Schnugg and Jamie Hunt 9-8(3) for the first team point. The No. 2 doubles match was halted with the team point determined.
 
"The doubles was extremely close and we fought with a lot of heart there and in the singles," Diaz added. "We proved we'll have a shot to win each time out, and I liked how we competed throughout this tournament."
 
In singles, the match remained tight as the teams each won three first sets. Schnugg, Hunt and senior Josh Varela captured the first set in their matches at No. 1, 2 and 6 while the Cavaliers did the same at No. 3, 4 and 5. At No. 4, the 68th-ranked Barrick defeated sophomore Borja Malo 6-4,6-0 to put Virginia up 2-0. Then, the All-American Schnugg got the Bulldogs going with a 6-3,6-4 win at No. 1. Virginia's Steven Rooda beat Drake Bernstein 6-3,6-2 in the No. 5 match to give the Cavaliers a 3-1 lead. The Bulldogs needed to sweep the remaining matches for the title.
 
At that point, Hunt was up a set and 3-all with 24th-ranked Singh, sophomore Javier Garrapiz was 1-1 in the third set against 11th-ranked Shabaz while Varela was leading 108th-ranked Drew Courtney 3-2 in the third set. Hunt's match was headed to a third set and Garrapiz had a 5-4 lead when they were halted because Drew Courtney rallied for a win at No. 6. He beat Varela 6-0,0-6,7-5 to give the Cavaliers their second straight indoor title.
 
Georgia will return to action Feb. 25 when it plays host to Georgia State at 3 p.m. It is scheduled to be the first outdoor match of the 2009 season at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.