Virginia quells challenge from Waves
Courtney provides winning margin, Cavs to meet USC for title
ATHENS, Ga. -- Virginia advanced to its second consecutive NCAA Tournament final with a 4-1 semifinal victory against Pepperdine at the Dan Magill Tennis Center on Monday night. The Cavaliers (29-1) overcame the Waves (27-7) and the rain, which forced the match to conclude indoors after midnight.
“I was pleased with how the guys fought,” Virginia head coach Brian Boland said. “Pepperdine has a great team and we knew this was going to be a tough match. After what they did [Sunday], to beat Georgia here in Athens, we knew we had to be ready to play. The guys did that and we are excited to have a chance to move on and play for a national championship.”
Virginia opened the match by taking the doubles point for a 1-0 lead. The Cavaliers took an early edge at the No. 2 position where Julen Uriguen and Justin Shane jumped out to a 4-0 lead and cruised to an 8-4 victory against Sebastian Fanselow and Jenson Turner. At the No. 3 position, Mitchell Frank and Alex Domijan were on serve at 4-4 against Hugh Clarke and David Sofaer before the Cavalier duo won the next four games to post an 8-4 victory that clinched the doubles point. The win snapped Clarke and Sofaer’s 19-match win streak.
Early in singles play, thunderstorms hit Athens and moved play indoors. Since the Dan Magill Tennis Center only has four indoor courts, both semifinal matches were played on two courts, with play beginning at the top of the lineup.
“We have been a team that has had a great deal of discipline and have dealt with adversity all year,” said Boland. “They adjusted well to having to go indoors and worked hard throughout the match. There was never a letdown, from us or Pepperdine.”
With No. 1 and No. 2 singles starting first, both matches went to a decisive third set. Domijan posted a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win at No. 2 against Finn Tearney to extend the Cavalier advantage to 2-0. The Waves cut the lead in half as Fanselow edged Jenkins 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 at No. 1. It was the first point allowed by the Cavaliers in the NCAA tournament this year.
The matches at No. 3 and No. 4 went on next and both went to first set tiebreakers. Frank won his breaker at No. 3 against Alex Llompart and rolled in the second set for a 7-6(3), 6-2 win to extend the advantage to 3-1. At No. 4, Courtney saved three set points to reach the breaker, which he won to take the first set. Just as Frank had done, Courtney went up an early break in the second set and used it to take the set 6-2, clinching the Cavaliers’ place in the final.
“Regardless of the conditions, we are looking forward to playing for a national championship,” said Boland. “Whatever the circumstances are, we are going to leave it all on the court. We have a lot of respect for Southern California and we are looking forward to the opportunity to play them.”
With the win, the Cavaliers extend their winning streak to 22-consecutive matches, while snapping Pepperdine’s 24-match win streak.