No. 5 Cavaliers Surge Past No. 15 Illinois
Jan 23, 2009
The Cavaliers retired Somdev Devvarman’s jersey before the singles matches Friday against Illinois.
"Illinois is an outstanding team and they certainly pushed us in every spot and I thought we played well when we needed to," Virginia head coach Brian Boland said.
Despite the lopsided score, the Illini provided a tough early season challenge for the Cavaliers in their first home match of the 2009 schedule.
"Illinois is always a tough match," Virginia captain Houston Barrick said. "Last year we had a heck of a match with them down there. We came out expecting them to be tough and they were. The score is a little deceiving but it was tough."
In the No. 1 singles match, Dom Inglot blew past Roy Kalmanovich in two sets (6-1, 6-4). In the No. 2 singles slot, Michael Shabaz breezed through his first set (6-3) before Dennis Nevolo battled back to win the second set (7-6). Shabaz, powered through in the third and final set, however, to win the match (6-4).
Also adding victories for the Cavaliers were Sanam Singh, who easily defeated Marc Spicijaric (6-2, 6-1) and Barrick with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Illinois’ Ruan Roelofse.
Momentum was a big key in the victories according to Barrick.
"I think we took all six first sets," Barrick said. "To come out strong like that, you play a team down, it’s hard to recover. That worked out very well."
The Cavaliers only loss came in the No. 5 singles between Drew Courtney and Marek Czerwinski. Czerwinski and the Illini stole their only win of the match in superbreaker.
Virginia jumped out to the early 1-0 lead in the match, sweeping all three doubles contests (8-5, 9-8 (3), 8-5). According to Barrick, winning the doubles point is always critical but especially so against a tough opponent like Illinois.
"It was huge," he said. "I’ve only lost a doubles point once here since I’ve been at Virginia. To start out 1-0 is so big, you only have to win 3 singles matches and today we were lucky enough to win four of them."
"I feel like we have some teams that are really gelling which is a positive this early in the season," he said. "I think we kind of picked up where we left off last year when Somdev and Treat [Huey] were No. 1 in the country all year. Obviously that was a big loss but I’m really thrilled with where we are at this early in the season."
The victory was made all the more special by the retiring of Devvarrman’s jersey between the doubles and singles matches. Devvarman received a commemorative jersey to honor the occasion and a banner was revealed highlighting his accomplishment.
According to Boland, Devvarman deserves every honor he gets.
"He came in here and did it the right way as a student athlete," Boland said. "He’s a really special person and has had so much success as a college player… He’s a very humble, hard-working good human being. We’re just blessed that he represents us and will continue to represent us for a long time."
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