UVa Tennis Teams Ready to Start NCAA Play

The Virginia women's tennis team has been making school history throughout Julia Elbaba's sophomore season -- and she's not ready for it to end now.

Elbaba and the Cavaliers enter this year's NCAA Tournament as the No. 3 seed, the highest ever for the UVa women's tennis team. They open regional Friday afternoon at the Snyder Tennis Center against Youngstown State.

UVa is coming off last month's first-ever ACC Tournament title win, and the Cavaliers' 21 wins are already a school record.

"I think we've realized that we're making history, which is really exciting," Elbaba said Thursday. "We just want to keep it going, and it hasn't stopped at ACC's. We want to go deep into the NCAA's. That would be so much fun, and great for our program, and everyone that's a part of it."

Kentucky faces Columbia on Friday morning in the first match of the women's regional at Snyder. The two winners meet Saturday afternoon, with a trip to the NCAA Round of 16 in Athens, Georgia, at stake.

UVa has reached that Round of 16 the past two years. The program has never played beyond that point.

"We want to go a long ways. And the first thing is, nothing happens in Athens unless we take care of business here in Charlottesville," said UVa women's tennis coach Mark Guilbeau. "So we've done a good job to allow us to be in Charlottesville, seeded in a good position, and with a lot of great fans and a lot of great support. So hopefully we can take advantage of that step, and then continue on. We'd like to go a long ways."

Prior to Saturday's second round match in the women's tournament, Snyder will host a pair of NCAA men's tennis first-round matches. UVa faces Army in the second match of the day.

The Cavaliers enter the bracket this year as the No. 4 seed in the tournament -- and as the defending national champions. UVa has reached each of the last three NCAA finals, and beat UCLA last May to win the first title in program history.

"We want to get back there," UVa sophomore Harrison Richmond said Thursday. "It was an unbelievable feeling, and we're willing to do whatever it takes. But we understand that it's not any easier, for sure."

Last year's title win capped an undefeated season for Brian Boland's team -- and also helped the Cavaliers shed the burden of expectations that had been mounting over the past decade.

And Boland thinks that's a good thing for his team entering this year's NCAA Tournament.

"I think that does free the team up a little bit," he said. "But at the same time, they're as eager and hungry as ever to defend their title. And as I've said, one of the things that we're most prideful of is our consistency. So we're at it again, and hopefully we can defend our title."

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