When We Last Left Our Heroes
The Hoos had just win a hard fought match against Oklahoma State to reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. There they would play Florida, the SEC Tournament champions.
How Did it Go?
Smooth as silk. The Cavaliers jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead behind doubles wins at #1 and #3 doubles. The win at #1 by Ryan Shane and Luca Corinteli was especially notable, because it came at the expense of the #1 ranked duo in the country.
Virginia did not let up in singles, winning the first set in all 6 matches. Henrik Wiersholm once again lead the way with a straight set victory at #6 singles, his fourth in as many matches in this tournament, to make the lead 2-0. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski scored a straight set victory at #2 singles to make the lead 3-0, and Alexander Ritschard finished off the match by winning a second set tiebreaker - also his fourth straight set win in four matches in the NCAA Tournament.
Virginia will face #13 seeded California. Needless to say, the fact that Cal made it to the semifinals is a surprise, but the Bears have scored confident upsets of #4 seed TCU and #5 seed Ohio State. In the other semifinal, 2015 runner-up and crowd favorite Oklahoma will play a Georgia team that easily dispatched #2 seed North Carolina. Strangely, no conference tournament champions are left in the field. Virginia, Cal and Georgia all lost in their conference tournament finals, while Oklahoma fell in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament.
How Can Virginia Win?
Cal is playing with a lot of confidence, but Virginia may be peaking at the right time. The doubles point is vital. Cal shocked the Buckeyes by winning the doubles point, snapping OSU's streak of 18 straight doubles wins. In singles, on paper the Hoos look like favorites at most positions. Virginia got off the court sooner than Cal, who played a nailbiting 4-3 match against the Buckeyes. Cal's top two players played long matches and their fitness will be tested against Ryan Shane and Colin Altamirano.