The second-seeded Virginia Cavaliers men's tennis team this weekend became only the second team in the history of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship to win three consecutive titles by topping the fifth-seeded Tennessee Volunteers. The 16-field tournament featured the top 11 ranked teams in the country, plus five more in the top 26.
Virginia opened the tournament with a 4-0 victory over Alabama, during which Virginia did not give up a single set among those matches that finished. Virginia followed it up with a 4-0 blowout of seventh-ranked Georgia, during which the Cavs again did not drop a single set. The Hoos advanced to the finals with a 4-1 win over third-ranked Ohio State.
Virginia took care of business in the finals, losing the doubles point, but rebounding nicely by winning five of six first-sets against the Vols, taking the title with a 4-1 victory.
"Every championship feels just as fulfilling as the previous ones," said Virginia head coach Brian Boland. "I am so happy for this entire group of guys who worked so hard and were resilient through some ups and downs earlier in the season. They know what we need to do to be successful and this is a reward that they richly deserve."
Upon hearing of the win, former Virginia player Somdev Devvarman, who had won two consecutive NCAA singles championship and has been ranked as high as 116 in the world, predicted, "I'm putting my money on Virginia winning the big one in May as well."
In a battle of two of the top three ranked players in the country, the Cavaliers took a 3-1 lead in the match when No. 3 ranked Michael Shabaz downed No. 2 ranked Smith 6-4, 6-4. The win snapped Smith's 13-match dual match winning streak, dating back to last season.
"Michael is a big time player," said Boland. "He rises to the occasion. When the stakes are the highest, he raises the level of his play. When it comes to crunch time, he knows what it takes to be successful. He came up big for us today and I am not surprised at all by that."
Sanam Singh received the ITA Sportsmanship Award for exemplifying outstanding sportsmanship and the spirit of college tennis during the course of the National Team Indoor Championship as well as throughout his career. Singh is the first Virginia player to win this award in its 19 years.
Virginia returns to action on Saturday when they host No. 34 LSU at 1 p.m. and Boston College at 6 p.m.