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Virginia Tennis Weekend Recap

Had a rough Founder's Day weekend? Then let us take the edge off with a Virginia tennis update!

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Women's Tennis

When we last left our heroes...

The women's team had a golden opportunity to get a huge win over an unbeaten North Carolina team, and bolster their ranking in advance of the NCAA tournament.

How did the weekend go?

So, so, close. The women put up a valiant effort, but lost to the Tar Heels 4-3. As we stated in the preview, there's no shame in losing to the Heels, they are an absolutely loaded squad. Junior Julia Elbaba (pictured above) had a particularly difficult time with North Carolina's top player, Jamie Loeb. Loeb has been a thorn in Elbaba's side for two seasons, with Elbaba winning only once in five tries. The match in Chapel Hill was the most lop-sided defeat Elbaba has suffered against her rival.

The women rebounded nicely in Atlanta, knocking off #35 Georgia Tech.

What's Next

It's Commonwealth Challenge time for the women! After the men defeated the Hokies, the women's team takes their turn Saturday at noon in Charlottesville. It's a match that the Hoos should win fairly easily.

On Sunday at noon, the women wrap up their regular season against North Carolina State. Both matches are scheduled to be played at the Snyder Tennis Courts, weather permitting.

Men's Tennis

When we last left our heroes...

The men's tennis team had dispatched the last remaining teams that appeared to be any threat to their conference winning streak. The team was simply looking to get through the regular season unscathed.

How did the weekend go?

ACC Champions everyone!! The men clinched a share of the regular season title for the 12th straight year, and can win their 10th straight outright title by winning one of their two matches this upcoming weekend. Don't bet on a loss. Seriously, the team now has 134 straight wins against ACC opponents, and counting.

What's Next

A trip to Florida to end the regular season. They'll play Florida State in Tallahassee on Friday at 3pm, and wrap up the trip against the Hurricanes of Miami in Coral Gables at 1pm on Sunday.

Of least to me

Freshman Collin Altamirano lost his first match of the season against Louisville's top player, #8 Sebastian Stiefelmeyer. The highly-regarded freshman is now 15-1 on the season. What was interesting, though, was that Altamirano was playing in the #1 spot. Altamirano has only played at #1 three times, and the past two times were against teams that were so completely overmatched that Coach Brian Boland sat some of Virginia's top players to give other players some court time. Against Louisville, all the top players played.

Altamirano's match against Stiefelmeyer, a player who has been ranked as high as #1 in the country this season, could indicate one of several things:

  1. Boland was seizing an opportunity to get Altamirano a match against tougher competition in preparation for what he may see in the postseason. Altamirano is going to be a brutal matchup for any team in the country at the #3 or #4 spot, but the level of competition will pick up as the team goes from the ACC to NCAA tournament.
  2. Boland may have been trying to get Altamirano a big enough win to potentially get him into the NCAA singles championship. Altamirano is currently ranked #72 in the country, which is well outside the field. A couple of big wins though, and his ranking could jump to the low 50's or 40's, which is usually where the cut off is for a singles tournament spot. You will not get those type of wins playing at #4 in the ACC, but you can at #1. The three players above Altamirano (Mitchell Frank, Ryan Shane and Thai-Son Kwiatkowski) all have rankings that should get them into the singles field.
  3. Boland thinks that his best path towards postseason success is with Altamirano at the #1 spot. This would raise some eyebrows, since Altamirano has not played in this spot for much of the season. Sudden elevation to the #1 spot in advance of the postseason may be seen as an attempt to put a weaker player at the top of the lineup in order to increase the chances of winning more points down the lineup. This is known as "stacking" and is a violation of the rules. It would, however, be difficult to call Altamirano at the #1 spot a true stack for Virginia. He was one of the best junior players in the United States prior to committing to play for Virginia, and he certainly gave Stiefelmeyer, one of the elite collegiate players in the country, a solid match. If Boland keeps Altamirano at the #1 spot through the ACC tournament, it is probably a signal that the coach intends to use the talented freshman at the top of his lineup in May.