When We Last Left Our Heroes
The #1 seeded Virginia men's tennis team were headed into a Round of 16 showdown with Oklahoma State.
How Did It Go?
The fingernails are decidedly shorter, but the Hoos advanced. The Cavaliers played a solid doubles point, quickly winning matches at #1 and #2 doubles to grab a 1-0 lead. Virginia won four first sets in singles, and went up 3-0 on the Cowboys with straight set wins by Henrik Wiersholm at #6 singles, and Alexander Ritschard at #4 singles.
Then things turned south. J.C. Aragone dropped his match at #5 singles after winning the first set. Ryan Shane managed to send his match to a third set after losing the first, but he too lost. Suddenly the margin was 3-2 with the final two matches in third sets.
The Cowboys luck ran out, however, as Colin Altamirano dismissed Arjun Kadhe at #2 singles with a 6-2 win in the third set to secure the victory for Virginia.
If you're looking for a reason why the Hoos may have had a slight struggle with the #16 team when the top seeds usually coast into the quarterfinals, look no further than the location of the tournament. The Oklahoma State fans have been noted as being vocal in the support of their teams in Tulsa, and may have played a big role in their #12 seeded women's team reaching the final four yesterday with an upset victory over #4 Ohio State, two days after upsetting #5 Georgia.
Virginia plays #9 seed Florida today at 1:00 pm EDT. Florida easily knocked off an unseeded SMU team to advance to the quarterfinals. Florida is the SEC Tournament champions, and has a 9 match winning streak on the line, but lost 5-2 to Virginia on their home court when the two teams played last month.
How Can Virginia Win?
Do what they did against Florida back on April 6th. Virginia lost the double point and #1 singles, but won the other matches. Virginia fans should not be quick to concede the doubles point as Virginia's top two doubles teams are among the best in the country, and capable of beating anyone.
Ryan Shane's loss to Julian Cash is a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that Shane won a set for the first time in the postseason. The bad news is that he dropped a match against the #56 player in the country, and the remaining #1 singles players in the field are all ranked higher. Florida's Diego Hidalgo is #10 in the country and defeated Shane in Gainesville in three sets. Shane has to be considered an underdog.
The key players for Virginia in the tournament will continue to be Wiersholm and Ritschard. Both players are 3-0 in NCAA tournament play without having lost a single set.