Virginia advances to third consecutive title match with 4-1 win against Georgia
URBANA, Ill. -- Virginia advanced to the NCAA tournament final for the third consecutive year, downing Georgia 4-1 in a semifinal match Monday at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex. The second-seeded Cavaliers (29-0) will meet top-seeded UCLA (29-1) in Tuesday's championship match.
"It was an unbelievable match and I am certainly proud of our guys to persevere," head coach Brian Boland said. "Give a lot of credit to Georgia, they played a great match. They fought all the way to the end. Our guys were resilient and were able to finish. It was a great atmosphere to play and a big thanks to our fans who came out here to support us. It felt like we were playing at home."
The Cavaliers took a 1-0 lead by winning the doubles point for the 27th time in 29 matches this season. Alex Domijan and Mitchell Frank got Virginia on the board with an 8-3 victory at No. 2 against Nathan Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux. At No. 3, Justin Shane and Julen Uriguen rallied from an early 3-0 deficit to win eight of the next nine games, defeating Eric Diaz and Marco Nunez 8-4 to clinch the point.
"We got off to a rough start in doubles," Boland said. "We rebounded really well at No. 3 and kept our lead at No. 2 and were able to get that point. It turned out to be a pretty important one."
In singles, the Cavaliers took four of the six first sets, but it was Georgia who captured the first match off the courts. At No. 1, Ben Wagland topped Jarmere Jenkins 7-5, 6-3 to even the score at one. Virginia retook the lead as Frank completed a 6-3, 6-3 victory against Austin Smith at No. 3 singles. The advantage stretched to 3-1 as Uriguen defeated Nunez 6-3, 7-5 at No. 6 singles.
The final three matches came down to a decisive third set. At No. 2, Domijan rallied from losing the first set to force a third set against Pasha. Domijan went up an early break in the final set only to see Pasha break back to even the set at four. In the ensuing game, Domijan took advantage of three Pasha double faults to break back and allow him to serve for the match. He held his serve at love to clinch the 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory and send the Cavaliers into the final.
"It was a really tough match as conditions were rough for both teams," Domijan said. "My match was back and forth the whole time. I tried to play more aggressively after losing the first set because I felt like he was dictating the points. Every time I stepped up my game, it seemed like I was winning, so I tried to keep that going."
For the third consecutive year, the Cavaliers will meet a team from Los Angeles in the final. Virginia will look to win its first NCAA championship when it meets UCLA, after falling to USC in the 2011 and 2012 finals. The Cavaliers and Bruins haven't met since a 4-2 Virginia victory in the 2010 NCAA quarterfinals in Athens, Ga.
"We are so happy to have a chance to play for a national championship," Boland said. "It is an opportunity and we are looking forward to it. I think the experience our guys have gotten on that stage the last two years will help us. They know what to expect and that can only be a benefit."