The Virginia men’s tennis team reached the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive year and for the sixth time in the past seven years with a 4-0 victory over Tennessee in a quarterfinal match Saturday. The Cavaliers (28-0) will meet Georgia in the semifinals on Monday.
“It was another good match today and I congratulate Tennessee on playing a good match too,” said head coach Brian Boland. “It was back and forth there for a while. They made it tough on us early in the singles, but the guys stayed composed and kept working and things eventually shifted our way.”
The Cavaliers took a 1-0 lead by winning the doubles point for the 26th time in 28 matches this season. In a battle of two of the top four teams in the nation at No. 1, fourth-ranked Jarmere Jenkins and Mac Styslinger captured a 9-7 win over top-ranked Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese.
“I thought the doubles point was huge for us,” said Boland. “The guys came out and played with a lot of energy today, and that really helped us in doubles. Tennessee has some great doubles teams, but we kept battling and it fell our way.”
In singles, the Cavaliers used the momentum from doubles and won four of the six first sets to take control of the match. Alex Domijan extended the lead to 2-0 with his 6-2, 6-3 victory at No. 2.
The match at No. 1 singles featured two of the top three players in the ITA singles rankings. Top-ranked Libietis won the first set over third-ranked Jenkins 6-4, before Jenkins returned the favor by winning the second set 6-4. On the final point of the second set, Libietis fell awkwardly as he approached the net and suffered a leg injury. He attempted to continue playing in the third set but retired after falling behind 3-0 in the decisive set, giving Jenkins the victory.
“I was just trying to play the match as if he was still healthy,” said Jenkins. “I wanted to keep my focus in that third set. He was playing extremely well over the first two sets, so it was tough to see that happen.”
For the second consecutive match, it was Styslinger who recorded the final point for the Cavaliers. He won 6-4, 6-4 at No. 5 singles to punch Virginia’s ticket to the semifinals. Styslinger is the only Cavalier to have a singles victory in all four NCAA Tournament matches this year.
The Virginia-Georgia semifinal match will begin at 1 p.m. CT (2 p.m. ET) Monday. It is the third time the Cavaliers and Bulldogs have met in the NCAA semifinals, with Georgia winning in both 2007 and 2008 en route to winning the national championship.
“We look forward to the semifinal match with Georgia,” said Boland. “We have a lot of respect for that program. Our guys will be ready. It will be nice to have another day to prepare, so we will use it well.”