Record: (34-1), 11-0 ACC. Finish: Loss in NCAA Finals vs. USC. ACC Champions
Just going to break down the segments of an amazing season, one that ended just a bit too soon.
ITA National Team Indoor Championships: This early season event has always been a Cavalier favorite. The team took it for the fourth consecutive year, romping Tennessee 4-0 in the final to seal the deal.
Regular Season: The meat of the season has not been much of a concern in recent UVA tennis history. Last year, UVA dropped just one match in this part of its schedule...and there was nowhere to go but up from there, as the team went undefeated this season. Not much else to be said here, as the Hoos were simply dominant, never giving up more than 2 team points in a match. This is a team that doesn't expect to lose; they ended on a 74 game ACC winning streak and an 83 game overall streak at home.
ACC Tournament: Not going to bore anyone here.... UVA won it's fifth consecutive ACC title without dropping a point.
NCAA Tournament: Surviving a few nervous moments against Stanford in the quarterfinals, the Cavaliers advanced to the first final in program history to face USC, who eliminated UVA the last two years en route to national titles. The heavily anticipated match between the nation's top two teams began disastrously; the Hoos dropped the doubles point, then fell behind 3-0, putting themselves on the brink of elimination. However, they displayed enormous fight from there; Alex Domijan won a thriller to get put the team on the board, and Urigen and Jenkins pulled out their matches to knot the final at 3. The championship would hinge on the third set of Sanam Singh's bout with USC's Daniel Nguyen.
Though he was behind 2-5, Singh broke to put the match back on serve and fire up his teammates and fans. Just as quickly, the match ended when Nguyen broke back, giving USC the title and ending a magical year a hair away from its ultimate goal. Heartbreaking for fans, and surely for the team. Domijan, Singh, and Jenkins were all named to the all-tournament team for their efforts.
While I would hate to sound bitter and blame the match on any outside circumstances...I am going to briefly do so anyways. Officiating in tennis is in need of some review. Players call their own games, which would be absurd to imagine in any other sport (chair umpires have the power to overrule calls, but rarely do). While USC obviously played a great match...not cheating has never been the school's strong suit, and players made a few incorrect calls that could have affected the outcome. The issue came to national prominence when Michael Shabaz retired in the semifinals of the NCAA individual Championships after more questionable calls, this time from the chair umpire. The issue sparked a string of controversy, as coach Brian Boland was not pleased with Shabaz's show of frustration.
In summary, I hope that the season is remembered for its successes rather than the "what-ifs" of its conclusion. While the team picked a horrific time to lose its first match...it didn't lose any other matches! Clearly, UVA has established itself among the NCAA's elite and dominates the ACC. An exciting time for tennis at the University, and one that should continue into next year