Quick Take: Tennis And The NCAAs
Apr 29, 2008
The Virginia men's tennis team has been named the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will host the first two rounds of the 64-team draw. Brian Boland's team completed the regular season with an undefeated 28-0 record. Treat Huey and his teammates open the tourney against Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday, May 10 at 10 a.m. Mark Guilbeau's women's team, meanwhile, suffered the disappointing fate of being left out of the tournament.
The media caught up with Boland, Huey, and Guilbeau shortly after the announcements and The Sabre gives you a quick take on the news.
You probably don't know too much about Fairleigh Dickinson, but if you do, what can you tell us about them?
We don't know too much about them, but we're definitely excited that we're the one seed in the tournament and we've been practicing really well. Everybody is getting better and better. The team is real healthy right now; we had a few guys sick the last few weeks, but now everybody is feeling great and playing some good tennis so we're excited.
You were the first ACC team to make it to the NCAA Tournament semifinals last year and with the experience back on this year's team, this could be the year for the Cavaliers. Do you believe that?
I definitely do. I feel like everybody is playing some great tennis, we've had some good results this year so far, and we just want to keep it going. It really starts this week and next week with some good practices - the coaches have been stressing that the last week or so after the ACC Tournament ended. I think we've been getting better and better so hopefully everyone will be playing great tennis at the end.
You made it to the semifinals last year, a great accomplishment. What's the biggest difference between last year and this year's team? What makes you believe this team can do it?
Last year's loss, we learned so much from that. The experience this whole season that everyone has gotten and the new guys, Michael Shabaz and Sanam Singh, have pushed the team to another level. They're unbelievable freshman players and with them the team has gotten so much stronger; our depth is unbelievable. So this team is ready and we're just excited to get out there.
This will be your last couple of matches in college tennis. Can you talk about what that means to you as your career winds down?
I haven't thought too much about it, I've been focused on the season. It's kind of sad it's coming to an end, but in a sense it's good that we're doing really well and hopefully we can end it on a high note.
Patrick McEnroe showed you some love on the ESPN News bracket show. How about that?
Patrick McEnroe talking a little bit about me on ESPN was great. (grinning) I've never really met him, but he's a pretty good guy to get some recognition from.
What was it like to be able to share the announcement with the Virginia tennis community?
Oh, it was great. I mean all the people that came out, we just want to thank them and it was a great atmosphere having them watch the show with us. It's exciting that we have so much support and we love it.
The doubles point is always important, but is it even more pressure packed during the NCAA Tournament with so much riding on the line?
Yeah definitely. Everyone is really focused on the doubles point. It's such a big point to start the match and it gives a team the momentum. We've been working a lot on doubles and I feel like our doubles teams are as strong as they've ever been so we're ready to go out there and play some good doubles.
You and Somdev are really looking to set the tone there right?
Definitely. We're definitely looking to set the tone in singles and doubles and just lead the team with anything we can do.
Virginia coach Brian Boland's team hosts an NCAA Tournament Regional for the fifth straight year.
Can you share your initial thoughts on being the No. 1 overall seed?
We're honored to be the No. 1 seed. The guys have worked hard all year and I think they really deserve the No. 1 overall seed. Now, we just need to go out and enjoy the journey and take one match at a time.
You made the NCAA Tournament semifinals last year. What is it about this team that makes you think they can get over that hump?
Experience always helps and the majority of our team is back from last year and they're hungry and they've worked hard all year. They push each other everyday in practice and make each other better. I just think it's the kind of year where everyone's come together. It's a special group of guys and we'll just take one match at a time and see what happens.
Having a one-two punch like Somdev and Treat goes a long ways too. Can you talk about what that means to this team?
Well Somdev Devvarman is a special player. He's undefeated in the dual matches this season and he brings so much leadership to the program, alongside Treat. Those guys are such the dynamic duo. They do a great job and they're two guys that make your team pretty special.
Do you feel like this is the year for the Cavaliers?
I think right now we just need to keep getting better. We still have 10 days before the tournament. We've had a great run so far and I think it's important that we keep things in perspective and keep working to get better everyday and let the results take care of themselves. We've had a great year and it's been a fun journey, we just have to keep it going.
What do you know about Fairleigh Dickinson?
We know absolutely nothing about Fairleigh Dickinson, but we'll look them up and be ready to start with them.
What do you think about the rest of the Charlottesville part of the bracket?
Penn State and Virginia Commonwealth both have great programs. Todd Doebler has done a great job bringing that program along; he's a new coach in the last couple of years. Of course, VCU has been a powerhouse for many, many years and we have a so much respect for them. We played VCU early on in the year and they have a lot of talent. We're going to have be ready no matter who we play. The first thing we need to take care of us is our match against Fairleigh Dickinson.
Can you talk about playing at home?
We've got the best fans in college tennis all year so the environment is tremendous and we appreciate all those people that come out. It's always an advantage to play at home. We haven't lost a match here for a couple of years I believe. I think for us it's really important to have that home advantage for the first couple of matches and hopefully that gives us the momentum we need as we hopefully get to Tulsa.
Can you talk about the challenges for you in terms of setting the line-up?
We submitted our line-up already to the NCAA and we believe it is the best line-up for us with obviously Sommie and Treat as our one-two punch. We put them in and believe that they're hopefully going to carry the way. One thing I think that isn't mentioned enough is how much depth we have. Teddy Angelinos is at the bottom of our line-up and he's undefeated. He hasn't lost a dual match. When you're playing No. 6, sometimes you don't get the same recognition as they guys at the top but you put Teddy Angelinos on the court and he's something like 23-0. As top heavy as we are, we also have a lot of depth.
Is that a good problem to have?
It is a great problem to have. You can't forget about the guys who have come in and helped us be 28-0 this year. We've really done this with eight players; there's no way we could have done it with six. We needed every one of them - Teddy, Lee Singer, Houston Barrick - every single one of those guys, without all of them, there's no way we'd be undefeated.
Treat said everyone is reasonably healthy at this point. Can you comment on that?
Yeah, this is as healthy as we've been. We'd been unhealthy for a couple of months really. We've been either banged up or we've had some flu or something or other running through the team so I'm getting excited. If we can stay healthy, I think that's probably the key to the whole thing.
Obviously some disappointment here today for your program, can you talk about your initial thoughts on being left out of the field?
I think the first thing that is really important is to congratulate the men. What they're doing is incredible and that's where we hope to head at some point. Also, to thank the young ladies on the team; we've got some good kids there.
It's disappointing. I think when you watch a senior basically walk out the building and her career just ended and there are some other kids in there who have worked really, really hard. But to be honest, there's a lot to this and those teams that are in there, they deserve to be in there. I feel like maybe we could have passed one or two teams. I think if you look purely at records, we probably should be in there, but we were too many spots away in the rankings.
But the reality is our program needs to make some major changes. We've been fortunate to have some real good kids in here, but we've also had some real challenges. We've had some kids who haven't bought into a new level of working and understanding that they're at a university to compete and play and be an athlete as much as they are to be a student and to do all the social things. I don't want carried away too much, but we have to make some dramatic changes, we have to have kids that really want to be here and really want to compete and be in the NCAA Tournament. That's how you get it done.
It's hard to look at it this way now, but could this be a positive in that way for the long-term?
I think it serves as an incentive for everyone to understand that we have to make some changes. We've come in here as coaches and we've worked our brains out. We've tried our absolute best and some kids have really improved and really bought in. But the overall program is not a hobby. It's not just a hit and giggle and we're not here strictly for the social aspect of what UVa has to offer. UVa has a lot to offer these kids and a lot of that has to do with athletics. So we've got to get a lot more serious about it. I'm going to ask that people understand that and our supporters understand that and we can make some great steps forward.
We looked at the selection from every angle you can possibly look at it. I thought we might Boise State, but to be honest they were too many spots ahead of us in the rankings and it looks like the committee went more by rankings than in the past. So we needed one more win and we had our chances. We had our chances early in the season and we need to be better prepared coming in. I've got no excuses. We've got to make some changes and work with some kids who want to move to a different level.
What are some positives about the season despite the disappointment of not making the field?
I think Amanda Rales is as about as positive a story as you're ever going to find in college tennis. I can't do justice to it in talking to you right now, but I can sum it up by telling you she wasn't in the starting line-up last year and was a walk-on at this University and is now playing No. 1 singles. She's one that has made some changes, one that has decided to commit to the athletics and the academics and to be a team leader and at certain points to sacrifice some of the things that pull you away from those things. Again, we don't have those things across the board.
Lindsey Pereira has been an incredible leader and we're going to miss Lindsey. It's unfortunate that she doesn't get to play in a third NCAA Tournament.
I know from a coaching standpoint, I think we did as much work or more than in any year I've coached. We're looking at 15 years or so and I've never missed the NCAA Tournament so professionally it's going to be a gutcheck. We've got to do a few more things to figure it out.
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