Feb. 17, 2013
SEATTLE - The top-ranked Virginia men's tennis team will play for the ITA National Team Indoor Championship after a 4-3 victory over No. 4 Ohio State Sunday at the Nordstrom Tennis Center. The Cavaliers (5-0) rallied with four singles wins after falling behind after doubles to reach the final for the sixth time in the past nine years.
Virginia will look for its fifth ITA National Team Indoors title when it meets No. 2 USC, the reigning NTI and NCAA Champion, in Monday's championship match. The final is scheduled for noon PT (3 p.m. ET).
"This win shows that this team has a ton of character," said head coach Brian Boland. "Ohio State has a great team and they took it to us in doubles and played at a high level. In singles, we embraced the moment. There were a lot of momentum changes. Our guys could have went away many times, but we just hung in there and kept fighting. This was a great day for college tennis. This match and USC's 4-3 win over UCLA, it was a great showcase for our sport."
The Cavaliers fell behind 1-0 after losing the doubles point for the first time this season. Blaz Rola and Kevin Metka topped Alex Domijan (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) and Mitchell Frank (Annandale, Va.) 8-4 at the No. 3 spot. Devin McCarthy and Ille Van Engelen clinched the point for the Buckeyes with an 8-6 win at No. 2 over Justin Shane (Falls Church, Va.) and Julen Uriguen(Guatemala City, Guatemala).
In singles, Virginia rebounded from the doubles disappointment and won four of six first sets to build momentum in the match. The Buckeyes doubled their lead when Rola defeated Jarmere Jenkins (College Park, Ga.) 6-4, 6-2 at the No. 1 position in the first match off the courts. Less than a minute later Virginia got on the board with Justin Shane's 7-5, 6-3 victory over Hunter Callahan at No. 6. Ryan Shane (Falls Church, Va.) evened the match at 2-2 as he completed a 6-4, 7-6(6) victory at No. 5 over Chris Diaz. Frank followed with a 6-4, 6-2 win at the No. 3 spot over McCarthy to give the Cavaliers their first lead of the day, 3-2. Ohio State answered with Connor Smith's 6-4, 7-6(4) win at No. 4 over Mac Styslinger(Birmingham, Ala.) to make the score 3-3.
The match came down to the battle at No. 2 between the top two players in ITA singles rankings. Top-ranked Domijan won the first set 6-3, while second-ranked Peter Kobelt took the second set 6-3. The final set remained on serve as Kobelt served at 5-6 to force a decisive tiebreaker. Kobelt led the game 40-0 and had four game points to force a breaker, but Domijan saved all of them and took advantage of his first match point after the second deuce of the game when Kobelt's volley landed wide. Domijan's 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win sent the Cavaliers into the final.
"It can be nerve-wracking when it comes down to you, last match on," said Domijan. "The last game was by far the longest points we had in the match. Maybe he felt the pressure a little more because he was serving. I got down 40-0, but I just tried to take it one point at a time and try to win a few points and get a little momentum for the breaker. Before you know it, it was back to deuce. From there, I just tried to make a lot of balls and play a good point."
The Cavaliers and Trojans will meet for the first time at the ITA National Team Indoors on Monday. The teams have met in the last four NCAA Tournaments, with USC winning all four matches, including the 2011 and 2012 NCAA finals.
"It is another opportunity for us to play them and we haven't had a lot of success recently against them," said Boland. "They are a different team this year, as are we. We are going to go in with a clean slate and give it everything we have on the court."
#1 VIRGINIA 4, #4 OHIO STATE 3
1. #4 Jenkins/Styslinger (UVa) vs. #36 Kobelt/Smith (OSU) 6-7 DNF
2. McCarthy/Van Engelen (OSU) def. #15 J.Shane/J.Uriguen (UVa) 8-6
3. Rola/Metka (OSU) def. Domijan/Frank (UVa) 8-4
1. #62 Blaz Rola (OSU) def. #7 Jarmere Jenkins (UVa) 6-4, 6-2
2. #1 Alex Domijan (UVa) def. #2 Peter Kobelt (OSU) 6-3, 3-6, 7-5
3. Mitchell Frank (UVa) def. Devin McCarthy (OSU) 6-4, 6-2
4. #30 Connor Smith (OSU) def. #5 Mac Styslinger (UVa) 6-4, 7-6(4)
5. #25 Ryan Shane (UVa) def. #37 Chris Diaz (OSU) 6-4, 7-6(6)
6. Justin Shane (UVa) def. Hunter Callahan (OSU) 7-5, 6-3
Order of Finish: