Thai-Son Kwiatkowski has yet to finish a full season in a Virginia tennis uniform. But the freshman already knows what to expect as the Cavaliers enter postseason play.
"You do have that target on your back," Kwiatkowski said Wednesday. "So I think that just makes us have to be prepared every time we step on the court. We have to be ready, we have to respect our opponents. And I think that should be the focus going from here."
Kwiatkowski and his UVa teammates boarded a bus for Cary, North Carolina, Wednesday afternoon. That's where the Cavaliers will be playing for an eighth straight ACC Tournament title this weekend, starting with Friday morning's quarterfinals.
UVa is once again the top seed in the tournament, after winning an 11th straight ACC regular season title. The Cavaliers completed their eighth straight unbeaten regular season in conference play -- they take a league-record 118 matches against ACC opponents into the tournament -- with Saturday's 7-0 win at Virginia Tech.
"When you put on the Virginia uniform, and you're playing for your school, you know you're playing for something way bigger than yourself," Kwiatkowski said. "You're playing for your team, the people who have past played here, the fans. Brian's built and unbelievable program. So every day you step out on the court, you're feeling a lot of pride."
"Sometimes I think that we might make it look a little easy," said junior Mitchell Frank. "But it's definitely, with a lot of these teams, they're tough, top to bottom. And we have to be focused and ready to go for every single match. Otherwise, someone will take us out."
The ACC Tournament begins at 9 a.m. Thursday, with No. 9 seed Miami facing No. 8 seed Florida State. The winner of that one advances to face the Cavaliers in Friday's 9 a.m. quarterfinal.
In addition to the seven straight ACC tournament championships, the UVa program has also won nine of the last 10. Virginia also enters the postseason as the reigning NCAA champion, after winning the program's first-ever team title last May.
Frank says the Cavaliers enter the postseason each spring "looking to add to that legacy every single year, and kind of continue to make the alumni proud."
"Obviously, play for ourselves, play for the university, play for our fans. Play for everyone," Frank said. "And it just definitely brings out the best in everyone, I think."