For the third time in six years, the Virginia men's tennis team is ranked No. 1 in the ITA preseason rankings, edging reigning champions USC. The women's team also cracked the top 25, checking in at No. 24. Both teams had players ranked in the top 30 (five for the men, one for the women). The men led all schools with seven players in the top 125, while the women had a school record five players in the top 125 (previous record was two).
The men's team is the reigning four-time ACC champion, and returns the core of its 39-2 team from last season. Virginia is primed this season for their first national team title ever, as they return senior Sanam Singh (No. 3), junior Drew Courtney (No. 10), sophomore Jarmere Jenkins (No. 19) and senior Michael Shabaz (No. 27). Each of these guys made it to at least the round of 32 in the 2010 singles tournament last year, including Shabaz's quarterfinals appearance.
But the real star of the show for the men is freshman Alex Domijan, ranked No. 3 overall in the country. Yes, I said freshman. The freshman (have I beaten the point home yet? Freshman!) won the ITA All-American Championships last fall, becoming only the third freshman in the 32-year history of the tournament to have won the title. He is the first Cavalier to win the ITA All-American singles championship, the only major individual title that Virginia had not previously won. Domijan and Jenkins had also played in the US Open qualifying rounds last fall.
For the women, sophomore Erin Vierra is the only Cavalier to crack the top 30 at No. 29, followed by junior Lindsey Hardenbergh (No. 56), sophomore Hana Tomljanovic (No. 73), junior Emily Fraser (No. 88) and sophomore Maria Fuccillo (No. 111).On the doubles side, reigning NCAA champions Courtney and Shabaz are ranked No. 3, while Domijan and Jenkins are ranked No. 10. Last fall, Courtney and Shabaz won the doubles title at the ITA All-American Championships. The team had also competed in the first round of the 2010 US Open as a wild card draw.
Meanwhile, the women have two teams in the top 16 -- Fraser and Tomljanovic are No. 10, while Fuccillo and Rashmi Teltumbde are No. 16.
Neither team has ever won a team national title, but the men look like they are poised to break through the glass ceiling this year. The quest for the national championship begins on January 18 against William & Mary for the men, and January 15-17 at the UVa Winter Invitational for the women.