The Virginia men's tennis team had its run in the 2007 NCAA Tournament come to an end Monday with a 4-1 semifinal loss to No. 1 Georgia at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The Cavaliers end the season with a 30-4 record, while the Bulldogs (31-0) advance to meet Illinois in the championship match Tuesday.
"We are obviously disappointed with the outcome," said Virginia head coach Brian Boland, "We came here to win a championship and we fell short. I am incredibly proud of this team. Everyone gave it everything they had on the court today. Give Georgia credit, they made the plays they needed to win."
The Bulldogs took the early advantage by winning a tight doubles point. Georgia took the early advantage as Jamie Hunt and Nate Schnugg defeated Ted Angelinos (Athens, Greece) and Marko Miklo (Bratislava, Slovakia) 8-3 at the No. 3 position. Virginia drew even at No. 2 doubles, where Houston Barrick (Brentwood, Tenn.) and Dominic Inglot (London, England) downed No. 16 Travis Helgeson and Matic Omerzel 8-6. It was the second win of the season against the Bulldog team as they finished the season with a 27-6 dual match record at the position. The opening point then came down to matchup at No. 1 doubles between the nation's top two ranked teams. No. 1 ranked John Isner and Luis Flores were up 7-5 with Isner serving for the match, but the No. 2 ranked Cavalier duo of Somdev Devvarman (Chennai, India) and Treat Huey (Alexandria, Va.) broke to get back on serve. Both teams held in the next three games to force a tiebreaker. Isner and Flores won the tiebreaker 7-3, sealing the match on their sixth match point of the contest to give Georgia 1-0 lead.
"We haven't lost a match when we won the doubles match," Boland said. "That says a lot about our team. We still had a great chance to win after doubles, because we thought we could win four or more singles matches."
In singles, the teams battled early on with each team taking three close first sets. Georgia extended its lead to 2-0 as No. 35 Matic Omerzel defeated Miklo 6-2, 6-3 at No. 4 singles. It was the final match of Miklo's career, as he ranks in a tie for eighth in school history with 86 singles wins.
The Georgia advantage increased to 3-0, as Helgeson defeated Inglot 6-4, 6-4 at No. 3 singles. Virginia cut the advantage to 3-1 as No. 2 Devvarman downed No. 1 Isner at No. 1 singles in a battle of the nation's top two ranked players. The win was Devvarman's 38th singles win of the season, bringing him within two of Brian Vahaly's single season school record of 40 set in 2001. That season, Vahaly reached the finals of the NCAA Singles Championship on the very same courts in Georgia. The loss was just Isner's second dual match loss in the past two seasons.
"I was pretty pumped to play today," Devvarman said. "John has been one of the best players in college tennis in a long time. Today, he had a bad day and I had a good day. I'd rather take the (singles) loss and have the team win."
Moments later, No. 95 Nate Schnugg rallied from losing the first set to defeat Barrick 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 at No. 5 singles to clinch the win for Georgia.
The Cavaliers end the season with a 30-4 record, marking the first 30-win season in school history. Their run to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament marked the first time that an ACC school had ever reached the semifinals. With the loss on Monday, Virginia had its 16-match consecutive win streak snapped. That streak had tied the school record set in 2005.
"We are excited about the future," said Boland. "We only lose one guy, but we have to wait a whole year to play again. That's a long time to wait."
Devvarman and Huey will return to action on Wednesday as the NCAA Singles Championship begins at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Devvarman, the 2006 NCAA Runner-Up, will be the bracket's No. 2 seed. Devvarman and Huey will also be the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Doubles Championship, which begins Thursday in Athens. Click the link above for the video.
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