The Virginia men's tennis team recorded their ninth straight ACC tournament title, extending their conference win streak to 139. In doing so, they gave themselves the best shot of jumping a few spots in the rankings and increasing the chance of an easier path to the national title.
Virginia used their talented depth to take out a Florida State team that drew first blood by winning the doubles point. Virginia responded with straight set wins at the #1, 4, 5, and 6 singles lines to clinch the win, 4-1. The match showcased how an elite team like Virginia can rely on strong play throughout its lineup to carry them in matches, even when playing behind after losing the doubles point.
Virginia won the doubles point and needed three straight set wins at the #1, 2 and 6 singles to secure a 4-0 win over North Carolina. In all seriousness, the biggest opponent Virginia faced in this one was the weather. The match started outside, but had to be moved to Duke's indoor facility almost 20 miles away. Once the match restarted, two courts had to have play halted because of roof leaks, including Ryan Shane's eventual win at #1 singles over Brayden Schnur, which was stopped with Shane preparing to serve for the match.
Weather delays can be worrisome for fans of the team leading at the time, because there have been plenty of cases of the trailing team taking the chance to regroup and turn the tide, but through all the delays, Virginia's players never let the Tar Heels off the mat.
Wake Forest came into the championship match boasting one of the best 1-2 punches in the nation at the top of their lineup in Noah Rubin and Romain Bogaerts, both Top 20 players. They lived up to their rankings, dispatching Ryan Shane and Collin Altamirano in straight sets. But the Deacons do not have the depth that Virginia has, and it showed in Virginia's 4-2 win to continue the ACC win streak. Virginia got wins at the 3, 4, and 5 singles lines to go with the doubles point.
Virginia won in spite of having lone senior Mitchell Frank sit out, sliding all of the regular singles lineup up one spot, and bringing in Mac Styslinger in at the #6 spot. To give you an idea of the great depth Virginia has, Styslinger is an NCAA doubles champion, and played #4 singles in the NCAA Championship victory over UCLA. The ability to bring a player like him off the bench to fill in for an injury is a testament to the kind of program Boland has built.
The women's tennis team won their second straight ACC title despite entering the tournament as the #4 seed. They gave themselves a huge boost going into the NCAA tournament in terms of their seeding in the process. What is particularly incredible is that the women's team was the more dominant of the two Virginia tennis teams this weekend.
Virginia's quarterfinal opponent, Clemson, was a frightening one. In the regular season, the Hoos needed a pair of three set singles victories to eek out a 4-3 win over the Tigers on the road. In the rematch, Virginia left no doubt. They opened with a easy win in doubles, and followed with three straight set wins in singles to score a 4-1 win.
#1 North Carolina. Unbeaten. The national team indoor champions, playing indoors, in their home state, 15 miles from their campus. A team that had lost one doubles point all season.
And they got thumped.
The doubles point was hotly contested, with coach Mark Guilbeau going with a lineup that he drew up only a week prior. It paid dividends as the pairing of Julia Elbaba and Skylar Morton knocked off the #7 ranked duo of Jamie Loeb and Carolina Price in convincing fashion, 8-2. Danielle Collins and Maci Epstien wrapped up the doubles point at #3 with an 8-5 win over Ashley Dai and Kate Vialle.
After losing the doubles point, you would have expected the Tar Heels to come out with their efforts redoubled. The only other time they lost a doubles point all season, they won the match 4-1. In this case, however, the Heels wilted. The Hoos seized 4 first sets, and closed out three of the matches in straight sets. Julia Elbaba was close to closing her match when Cassie Mercer clinched the win at #6 singles. North Carolina did score one point at #3 singles, but it came at a point in the match where everything was going the way of the Hoos, and they coasted to a 4-1 win.
Having knocked off the nation's #1 team, Virginia was a favorite to take out the #6 seed Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets for a second straight conference title, a team the Hoos had beaten on the road 2 weeks earlier.
Virginia easily won the doubles point, and got straight second victories at #3 and #4 to go with an injury retirement at #2 singles to claim the crown.
The results of the weekend for the women's team are big. Not only do they take home some hardware, but the win over UNC will help boost their ranking and improve their draw in the NCAA tournament. Additionally, the team played like a team that can compete with the best teams in the nation, and should now be considered a threat to do serious damage at the NCAA tournament in May.