The Virginia men’s tennis team are in the NCAA Championships for the sixth time in seven seasons and are looking for their third straight NCAA team title, and fourth in five seasons. Virginia will be facing a familiar foe in North Carolina, who is competing in the finals for the first time in program history.
Since 2000, only Southern California has reached the finals as many times as Virginia, though the Trojans won five of six titles from 2009-2014, including twice over the Hoos.
Why this matters
This is head coach Brian Boland’s last season with the Virginia Cavaliers. After this season, he’ll be headed to be the head of men’s tennis at USTA Player Development. After 16 seasons in Charlottesville, he took a program that was on the chopping block to one of national prominence. Do it for Boland.
A win today for the Hoos will be their third straight title. Only three other schools have won three or more consecutive titles -- UCLA (1952-1954), USC (1962-1964, 1966-69, 2009-12), and Stanford (1988-90, 1995-98). All three in the Pac 12.
How we got here
Virginia is the No. 2 seed in the tournament, which meant the Hoos played host in the early rounds to Monmouth and Columbia, easy 4-0 wins in both matches. In the round of 16, Virginia continued its dominance, blanking Florida en route to facing 10th-seeded Texas in the quarterfinals. Against the Longhorns, Virginia picked up the doubles point and easy 6-1, 6-0 and 6-2, 6-1 wins by Collin Altamirano and Carl Soderlund on courts 4 and 3, respectively. Virginia’s Alexander Ritschard dropped the first match of the NCAA Tournament for the Hoos on Court 1, but J.C. Aragone picked up a nice win with a 7-3 tiebreaker in the second set to seal the deal.
In the semifinals, Virginia lost the doubles point to No. 3 Ohio State, but picked up three quick singles points coming from Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, Altamirano, and Aragone. Then, with Henrik Wiersholm serving for the match at 40-30, Ohio State stalled and called for a rain and lightning delay to try to slow Virginia’s momentum. It would be over four hours later before play would resume, indoors. Ohio State’s Mikael Torpegaard, who was also serving for match point prior to the delay, won his match first before Wiersholm clinched for the Hoos.
Here’s a video review of the greatest points.
No. 9 North Carolina defeated VCU 4-0, South Carolina 4-1, top-seeded Wake Forest 4-2, and No. 13 Georgia 4-3 to reach the finals.
UVA vs. UNC
Familiar conference rivals, Virginia and North Carolina have faced each other three times this season already. Virginia dispatched the Tar Heels 4-0 in the ITA Indoor semifinals, but just barely escaped the Heels in the regular season, 4-3, and again in the ACC Championship semifinals, 4-3. But Cavalier fans remember all too well that the Hoos’ 140-match ACC win streak was broken last year by the Tar Heels in the ITA Indoor championships, 4-2.
How to Watch
Virginia and North Carolina will go head to head for the NCAA Championship no earlier than 4:00 p.m. ET. (Eds. note: the match was originally scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET, but is in weather delay, and this post has been updated and will continue to be updated.) It will be live on ESPNU, but you can also stream it online. If you’re looking for online scoring, you can find it here.