Men’s tennis: Virginia falls to North Carolina in ITA Indoors Finals

virginia tennisThe top-seeded Virginia men’s tennis team (8-1) fell 4-2 to third-seeded North Carolina (9-0) in the finals of the 2016 Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Men’s Team Indoor Championship on Monday (Feb. 15) at the Boar’s Head Sports Club. It was the first title for the Tar Heels.

“I am really proud of our team as I thought we played remarkably well in terms of how we competed,” said Virginia head coach Brian Boland. “This is a tournament that we certainly always want to win, but it is not what we are ultimately aiming for. A lot of credit to North Carolina who hung in there and gave themselves a chance to win in the end. It would have been very easy for them to look up at the scoreboard and go away, but they kept fighting on every court. I thought our players did a good job of responding and stepping up their games in the second set. Perhaps the nerves and emotions got to us a little bit. This was great for us and what you want early in the season.”

The loss to North Carolina also ended Virginia’s win streak against conference opponents (regular season and tournaments) at 140 consecutive matches, the longest streak in ACC history in any sport. The streak began on May 14, 2006, with a win against Wake Forest in the NCAA Tournament.

“I think the reason that we were able to get to this point is that it never really was a focus,” said Boland. “I don’t think you win 140 matches in the ACC over 10 years unless you can really focus on the job at hand day in and day out, which is what we have been doing.”

Virginia took a 1-0 lead after winning the doubles point with a pair of 6-3 victories at No. 1 and No. 3. The Cavaliers won four of their first sets and then went up 2-0 on a quick 6-2, 6-3 win by junior J.C. Aragone (Yorba Linda, Calif.) at No. 5 singles. UNC earned its first win with Anudeep Kodali downing sophomore Henrik Wiersholm (Kirkland, Wash.) 6-2, 6-2 on No. 6. All four other courts went to a third set including at No. 4 singles where senior Mac Styslinger (Birmingham, Ala.) rallied back from a 6-4 loss in the first set with a 6-0 win in the second.

Junior Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (Charlotte, N.C.) went up 5-3 in his third set at No. 2, but was pushed into a tiebreaker when UNC’s Ronnie Schneider tied up the set at 6-6. The No. 1 singles court also went to a tiebreaker at the same time with senior Ryan Shane (Falls Church, Va.) and UNC’s Brayden Schnur deadlocked in the third set. Shane dropped his tiebreaker first, falling 7-4 before Kwiatkowski lost his tiebreaker moments later with a 7-5 final, giving UNC a 3-2 lead.

With sophomore Collin Altamirano (Sacramento, Calif.) up a break in the third set at No. 3 singles, Styslinger battled back from down 4-0 in his third set to tie it at 4-4, but ended up falling 7-5 to UNC’s Jack Murray, which gave the title to the Tar Heels.

“A loss like this kind of wakes us up and gets us motivated,” Shane said. “We competed really well and never gave up. Mac came back from down 4-0 in his third set to tie it up. Collin fought hard. I lost on a breaker in the third that came down to the wire. I don’t think anyone gave an opponent an inch. If you step back at really look at it, this match came down to just a few shots, a few let points and deuce courts made the difference. It hurts that we lost, but we definitely didn’t give it to them.”

The ITA Division I National Men’s Team Indoor Championship dates back to 1973. Stanford owns the most ITA Indoors titles with 12, followed by UCLA with seven and the Cavaliers with five championships.

 

No. 7 North Carolina 4, No. 1 Virginia 2

Doubles

  1. #42 Ryan Shane/Luca Corinteli (VA) def. #3 Brett Clark/Robert Kelly (NC) 6-3
  2. #4 Mac Styslinger/Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (VA) vs. Jack Murray/Brayden Schnur (NC) 4-3, unfinished
  3. Collin Altamirano/J.C. Aragone (VA) def. Blaine Boyden/Ronnie Schneider (NC) 6-3

Singles

  1. Brayden Schnur (NC) def. #27 Ryan Shane (VA) 6-2, 5-7, 7-6
  2. #23 Ronnie Schneider (NC) def. #2 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (VA) 6-4, 3-6, 7-6
  3. Collin Altamirano (VA) vs. Brett Clark (NC) 6-1, 6-7, 4-5, unfinished
  4. #89 Jack Murray (NC) def. #78 Mac Styslinger (VA) 6-4, 0-6, 7-5
  5. J.C. Aragone (VA) def. #62 Robert Kelly (NC) 6-2, 6-3
  6. Anudeep Kodali (NC) def. Henrik Wiersholm (VA) 6-2, 6-2

Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (5,6,1,2,4)



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