SEATTLE - The top-ranked Virginia men's tennis team won its fifth ITA National Team Indoor Championship in six years with a 4-2 victory over second-ranked USC in Monday's final at the Nordstrom Tennis Center. The Cavaliers (6-0) won the doubles point and used straight set victories at the top three singles positions to deny the Trojans their second straight title.
"I am so proud of this team and what they accomplished this week," said head coach Brian Boland. "During the last two matches, there were times where we kind of had our backs against the wall and we handled the adversity well. Every guy played a role and stepped up when the team needed them. This is another stepping stone for our program, to win another National Indoor Championship. We now have to get ready for the outdoor season and continue to get better to accomplish the goals this team has for itself."
The Cavaliers needed just 40 minutes to win the doubles point and take a 1-0 lead in the match. Alex Domijan (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) and Mitchell Frank (Annandale, Va.) topped Eric Johnson and Emilio Gomez 8-4 at the No. 3 position. A minute later Julen Uriguen (Guatemala City, Guatemala) and Justin Shane(Falls Church, Va.) clinched the point with their 8-3 win at No. 2 over Max de Vroome and Roberto Quiroz.
In singles, the Cavaliers and Trojans split the six first sets, each winning three. Virginia's lead doubled as Domijan won his fourth match of the tournament at No. 2, his third over a top-15 opponent, topping No. 10 Gomez 6-3, 6-2. USC cut the lead in half at No. 6 where Johnson downed Justin Shane 7-5, 6-4. Jarmere Jenkins (College Park, Ga.) increased the lead to 3-1 with his 6-2, 6-4 win at No. 1 over Ray Sarmiento. The Trojans closed the gap to 3-2 with de Vroome topping Ryan Shane(Falls Church, Va.) 7-6(4), 6-3 at No. 5 singles.
In the third match that Virginia won the first set, at No. 3, Frank was serving at 6-3, 5-5 against Quiroz after coming back from down a break for most of the second set. He fought off two break points against him before holding for 6-5. In the next game he broke Quiroz at love to clinch the championship for Virginia.
"I looked up at the scoreboard and I saw we were up 3-1 and I figured it was going to come down to me," said Frank. "I was calm in the moment and just wanted to play my game. When I was able to save the break points and hold for 6-5, it gave me some momentum. I had been in a bunch of his service games all day and I was able to get some returns in play. I had been passing well all day and on three of those points he came in and I was able to pass him for winners. It was just a great feeling to get the win for the team."
It marked the third time Virginia and USC had met in the final of a national tournament. The Trojans downed the Cavaliers in the 2011 and 2012 NCAA Finals. Even though the teams had met in each of the last four years in the NCAA Tournament, Monday's match was the first meeting at ITA National Team Indoors.
"Playing USC is always a challenge," said Boland. "They have a great program and we have so much respect for them. We have had a lot of great battles with them in the past, and today was no exception, and we know that there will be more to come in the future. We look forward to it because the high level of our matches is why college tennis is so great."
Virginia won an unprecedented four consecutive ITA National Team Indoor Championships from 2008 to 2011, including winning the title in Seattle in 2008 and 2011. The Cavaliers' five overall NTI championships ranks third in ITA history, behind Stanford (12) and UCLA (7).
Virginia will return to action on March 3 as it hosts No. 8 Oklahoma. Match time at the Snyder Tennis Center is scheduled for noon.