WACO, Texas -- Third-seeded Virginia will compete in its fourth NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championship in five years, as the Cavaliers take on No. 1 Oklahoma Tuesday at Baylor's Hurd Tennis Center.
Virginia (28-3) beat the host and second-seeded Baylor Bears 4-2 in the semifinals on Monday afternoon. Oklahoma (29-2), last year's runner-up to Southern California, edged No. 5 TCU 4-3 in a semifinals thriller. The championship matchup is slated to begin at 2 p.m.
Brian Boland is in his 14th season as head coach of Virginia. He guided the Cavaliers to the 2013 NCAA Championship, and to the finals in the previous two years."The players wear the orange and blue with pride," Boland said about his Cavaliers' charges. "They get up every day and buy into the culture we have at UVA. They get to work. They are a true team, and really support each other. They go out every day and make themselves, and everyone them better. It's a great culture, and I'm happy to be part of it."
Virginia first blanked Columbia 4-0 last Thursday in the round of 16, and then beat No. 6 Texas A&M by the same score in quarterfinals. In last year's NCAA Championship at Athens, Georgia, USC took out Virginia 4-1 in the semifinals.
The hometown favorite Baylor won two of three doubles and earned the first point of the match. Cavaliers junior Ryan Shane put Virginia on the board by winning No. 1 singles. Shane, ranked No. 8 in collegiate tennis, beat No. 2 Julian Lenz 6-3, 6-4.
"I played one of my better matches in a while," Shane said. "He played well too, but things just went in my favor. That [team] point right off the bat really helped us move forward in winning the match."
Shane received an entry to the NCAA Singles Championship, and is seeded eighth in the 64-draw tournament. Additionally, Shane is paired with sophomore Luca Corinteli in doubles. The Virginia duo will be the No. 3 seeds as the individuals are slated for May 20-25. Lenz earned a No. 2 seeding in singles, and is seeded in the fifth-through-eighth category in doubles with Diego Galeano.
The Oklahoma-TCU matchup, played simultaneously, provided a lot of drama for the fans in the adjacent Riverside Courts. The Sooners won the doubles point by taking two of three matches. All three went to a tiebreaker. The top-ranked player in the nation, Oklahoma's Axel Alvarez, broke the deadlock by winning No. 1 singles 7-5, 7-6 (5) against TCU's Nick Chappell.
Leading Oklahoma to its second consecutive final is head coach John Roddick in his sixth year at the helm. USC edged the Sooners 4-2 last year in Athens. At this year's event at Baylor, Oklahoma fought its way past No. 16 UCLA 4-3 in the round of 16, and beat eighth-seeded Georgia 4-2 in the quarters. Seven of Oklahoma's matches have gone to 4-3 this season, and the Sooners are 5-2 in that area. One of the victories was a decision against Virginia at Norman, Oklahoma, in March.
"We know Virginia well, and it's going to be a good match," said Roddick, who coached his brother, Andy, a former star on the ATP Tour. "When we played them [Virginia], it came down to the last match on, and we snuck it out. With these kinds of teams, the matches are toss-ups. We have to go out and play well. When we do that, we know we have a very good chance to win."