Virginia's Ryan Shane rallies, captures individual championship
WACO, Texas -- Virginia junior Ryan Shane concluded his season Monday by capturing the 2015 NCAA Men's Singles Championship. Shane, the No. 8 seed, rallied from down a set and a break to defeat seventh-seeded Noah Rubin of Wake Forest 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-1 at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center on the campus of Baylor University.
"It is an unbelievable feeling to be coming home with two championships," Shane said of winning the singles title after the Cavaliers won the team title. "I don't think it has set in yet that this is real. The fact that I had to fight so hard for this title, coming from behind today, makes it that much more special."
It was the third NCAA Singles Championship in Virginia history as Shane joins two-time champion Somdev Devvarman (2007 and 2008).
"I can't imagine a better way to end this season," head coach Brian Boland said. "This success is a testament of the hard work of every player, coach and staff member in this program. I am so proud of how far Ryan has come in his time at Virginia. He has a tremendous growth mindset and is the one of the most coachable players I have ever been around. He wasn't always in the lineup as a freshman, and now, two years later, he is the national champion. That is a testament to his hard work and his resilience."
Rubin started the match strong, jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first set. After Shane held for 5-1, he took advantage of his first break-point opportunity of the match to close to 5-2. During the changeover, rain caused the match to be moved indoors. In the first game indoors, Shane held for 5-3 before Rubin held in a four-deuce game to close out the opening set.
The second set was on serve until Rubin broke to take a 3-2 lead. He held that advantage until he served for the championship at 5-4 in the second, but Shane broke him to stay in the match. After both players held, it went to a tiebreaker. Shane was up a mini-break at 4-2 at the changeover and won the breaker 7-4 to draw even in the match.
The final set began with Shane breaking Rubin at love in the first game to take an early lead. He took a two-break lead later in the set as he broke for a 4-1 advantage. After holding for a 5-1 lead, Shane broke Rubin again to close out the three-set victory.
"When I lost to him in the ACC final, I felt like I was a little on edge," Shane said. "Today, I tried to balance being relaxed and aggressive and fell behind early. After the rain, when we moved inside I feel like I was better able to balance those things and it carried me through the rest of the match."
Shane becomes the 14th player in the modern era (since 1977) to win the NCAA Singles Championship after helping his school win the team title. He joins the group of Matt Mitchell (Stanford, 1977), John McEnroe (Stanford, 1978), Tim Mayotte (Stanford, 1981), Mikael Pernfors (Georgia, 1985), Dan Goldie (Stanford, 1986), Alex O'Brien (Stanford, 1992), Bob Bryan (Stanford, 1998), Alex Kim (Stanford, 2000), Matias Boeker (Georgia, 2001), Amer Delic (Illinois, 2003), Benjamin Becker (Baylor, 2004), and Steve Johnson (USC, 2011 and 2012).
Monday's match was the first NCAA singles final between two players from the ACC and the first between two players from the same conference since 2002.
"Congrats to Noah Rubin on an outstanding season," Boland said. "I can't remember a more mature and composed player in my 20 years as a head coach. He deserves a lot of credit for continuing to play at a high level even as the momentum in the match shifted and Ryan had stepped up his level."
The championship was Virginia's sixth individual NCAA title since 2007 (three singles and three doubles), a sum that is twice as many as any other school during that period.