NCAA Champion Cavaliers Ready to Open Title Defense

By: Nate Sulham Email
By: Nate Sulham Email

It's a nice change for Brian Boland and the Virginia men's tennis team.

For once, the Cavaliers aren't heading into a new season with questions like 'When are you going to win the big one?' hanging over their heads.

That's because Virginia finally put an end to those questions by winning the NCAA Championship last season.

Now, the Cavaliers are set to begin their title defense in 2014, starting with this weekend's ITA Kickoff at the Boar's Head Sports Club. Virginia will welcome in Elon, Indiana and Samford for the two-day event, followed by a Sunday doubleheader with Navy and Boston College.

"Now it's time for our traditional season where we're out there battling alongside one another," Boland said Thursday. "There's nothing more exciting than college tennis. We're fired up, six o'clock (Friday) night against Elon. We can't wait."

"Obviously coming off a National Championship we're pretty confident as a team but we're certainly ready to go," junior Mitchell Frank added. "We've been preparing hard so we'll be ready to compete this weekend."

Senior Alex Domijan is expected to be ready to go this weekend. It will be his first game action since the NCAA Final. Domijan missed extensive time over the summer and fall with a foot injury.

"I'm a little nervous because I haven't played a match since NCAA's last year so it's exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time," Domijan explained. "I need to get back out there with some competition."

The Cavs are accustomed to entering a new season as one of the elite teams in the country -- but not "the" team everyone else is gunning for.

Not this year.

With the National Championship came a new target on the Wahoos' backs -- but not added pressure.

"Personally I think it's a good thing," Domijan said of the team's new status. "The fact that we've done it, we have some confidence. I don't look at it as more pressure, I feel like we've always had pressure playing in this program. The fact that we've done it gives us confidence."

"I think definitely it brings a different pressure but to be the ones who took the title and to have that kind of target on your back it's definitely a different feeling," Frank added.

Boland says he has no worries about his team's mental makeup heading into opening weekend.

"Well if they're defending the title my only concern was any kind of complacency that might come about and truthfully our guys are really hungry, and honestly I give our coaching staff a lot of credit," Boland said. "They've done a tremendous job of making sure we stay hungry. There's no complacency in this program. You wear that orange and blue in our program, you better be able to bring it every single day."

If the Hoos are able to escape this weekend, they'll advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Houston.

The Cavs are the defending Indoor Champions, giving them five Indoor titles in the last nine seasons.

Last year, Virginia beat out rival USC for the championship, eliminating a big hurdle for the Cavs. The Trojans had beat Virginia in NCAA Championship Finals twice prior.

"Beating USC I think gave our guys more freedoms," Boland said. "They seemed to play looser over the season after that."

The Cavaliers say the team indoors are a good springboard into the season.

"You're able to get a feel for the competition out there, see where you're at as a team," Frank said. "We're looking forward to playing in Houston but we've got some tough competition coming in this weekend so we have to be ready by the opening point."

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