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UVa. men’s tennis makes NCAA title game

Virginia's Jarmere Jenkins celebrates a point in his pivotal singles match with Ohio State's Matt Allare. Photo by Matt Riley - UVa. Athletics.

The top-ranked Virginia men’s tennis team advanced to the first NCAA final in program history with a 4-2 semifinal win over No. 4 Ohio State on Monday at the Taube Tennis Center. The Cavaliers (34-0) will meet two-time defending champion Southern California in the final on Tuesday.

“I am really proud of the team today,” said head coach Brian Boland. “We overcame the adversity of losing the doubles point. I was proud of how we came out in singles and refocused on the match. Ohio State is a great team and we have had a lot of great battles with them in recent years. I am happy that we were able to pull through and have a chance to play for a championship tomorrow.”

The Buckeyes (34-3) opened the match by winning the doubles point, the first time the Cavaliers had dropped the opening point in 16 matches (at Texas on Mar. 20). Chase Buchanan and Shuhei Uzawa won 8-6 at No. 2 over Jarmere Jenkins (College Park, Ga.) and Julen Uriguen (Guatemala City, Guatemala). Blaz Rola and Balazs Novak added an 8-6 win at No. 3 over Sanam Singh (Chandigarh, India) and Alex Domijan (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) to clinch the opening point.

In singles, the Cavaliers began strong, winning four of the six first sets. Domijan tied the match at 1-1 as he cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 win over Buchanan at the No. 2 spot. Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.) gave Virginia a 2-1 lead with his 6-4, 6-4 win over Rola at the top spot.

The other four matches split sets and went to a decisive third set. Devin McCarthy rallied from losing the first set for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 5 over Justin Shane (Falls Church, Va.) to tie the match at 2-2. Jenkins gave Virginia the lead again as he topped Matt Allare 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-2 at No. 4 singles. Singh clinched the match for the Cavaliers as he defeated Ille Van Engelen 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 at No. 3 singles.

Virginia is the first ACC team to reach the championship match of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship. Tuesday’s match will mark the third straight year Virginia and USC have met in the tournament. The Trojans (26-2) have defeated the Cavaliers in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments, in the quarterfinals in 2009 and the semifinals in 2010.

The championship match begins at noon PDT (3 p.m. EDT) at the Taube Tennis Center. The match will be broadcast live on ESPNU.