Quick Take: Tennis Heads To The NCAAs
Apr 28, 2009
Virginia coach Brian Boland's squad is the No. 1 overall seed again this season.
The brackets were announced Tuesday night with both teams and the invited public watching at Boar's Head Sports Club. Unfortunately due to technical difficulties, the men's team missed the live announcement of its seed but the glitch was fixed in time to view the women's selections. The No. 1 seeded men will face Navy while the women will take on VCU.
On the men's side, the No. 1 Cavaliers were assured of a berth by clinching their third consecutive ACC Tournament victory. Virginia will host Navy in the first round Friday May 8 and could face the winner of North Carolina and South Carolina. Teams that advance play on Saturday May 9. The Cavs received the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament for the second year in a row.
"Weíre optimistic and excited," Virginia coach Brian Boland said following the announcement. "We're confident. We're coming off a season where weíve gotten better with each match. We've been through some incredibly adverse situations and found ways to battle back and get the job done. This team has something special. We just really need to get focused on next weekend and get ready to play. It's a great opportunity for us. No matter how well you do during the regular season. This is where it really matters."
In the womenís bracket, Virginia, 13-9 on the season, returns to the tournament field this season after narrowly missing the cut last year. The Cavaliers will match up with Virginia Commonwealth in the opener and if victorious would move on to face the winner of Richmond and Duke. The Cavaliers fell to the Blue Devils 4-0 in the second round of the ACC Tournament earlier this month after battling past Boston College in the opening match. Virginia will travel to Durham for its contest with VCU next weekend.
"I'm excited for the kids more than anything," Virginia women's coach Mark Guilbeau said. "These kids deserve to play in the NCAA Tournament. They earned that by working hard. Especially for our seniors Amanda [Rales] and Maggie [Yahner] to end their careers by being in the NCAA Tournament is a great great reward and accomplishment."
TheSabre.com caught up with Sanam Singh and Amanda Rales to get their reaction to the announcement and the upcoming NCAA Tournament
BAILEY: What was your reaction to being matched up with Navy in the opening round?
Singh: Obviously we didnít get to see it. It was kind of random but I donít know if anyoneís seen Navy play before. But itís the NCAA Tournament. You canít take anyone for granted. Weíre going to go out there and treat it just as any match and hopefully come out on top.
Singh: Itís the biggest stage of college tennis. You get yourself motivated as it comes only once a year. Even when you play the ACC Tournament, thatís a good warm-up for this but I feel that once the NCAA Tournament rolls around, everyone is going to be so pumped and ready to go.
BAILEY: How far has this team come after arguably graduating three of the programís strongest players?
Singh: I bet no one expected us to be here at this point when we lost Somdev, Treat, and Teddy, three great players but we worked really hard in the fall and it showed when we started the season off really strong, winning the national indoors. Our freshman have been really great, Drew Courtney and Steven Rooda. Juniors, Houston [Barrick] and Lee [Singer] have stepped up. Dom [Inglot]ís been great. Everyone has just stepped up at the right time and I feel weíve played like a true team.
BAILEY: Did you feel pressure to elevate your own game this season?
Singh: What I did last year, some of the freshmen are doing this year. They are just winning at the bottom of the line-up. Obviously they look up to me, Michael [Shabaz] and Dom to get it done at the top of the line-up but there have been many times when weíve kind of struggled and theyíve come through and I feel if we can do that consistently, thatís why I think we have a chance to go far in this tournament.
BAILEY: What is your reaction to facing VCU and potentially Duke again in the opening rounds?
Rales: "Iím definitely really happy that we are starting off with VCU. I think we were probably expecting a team that would be more competitive but at the same time weíre going to have to bring it against VCU just to get to Duke. Dukeís a No. 3 seed so they are going to be a really tough match if we make it through the first one."
BAILEY: How is preparing for the NCAA Tournament different than a regular season match?
Rales: "Youíd hope that you wouldnít have to approach it differently, that all the other matches would feel just as good but the fact of the matter is you are playing for the Sweet Sixteen which is something that Iíve always wanted to make. I think everyone is going to bring their A-game for sure."
BAILEY: What would it mean to you to make a run to the Sweet Sixteen with a team that has been through a lot of ups and downs in recent years?
Rales: "It would be something that Iíve wanted since the day Iíve entered college tennis. I think the team almost every single year has had that potential so to not have made it yet is a big disappointment but they call it the Sweet Sixteen for a reason. Thatís what our coach always says."
BAILEY: What kind of adjustments has this team made mid-season to get where you are today?
Rales: "I think everyoneís definitely had to realize that we have to demand a certain standard from each other. Whether thatís making sacrifices off the court or putting in an extra track workout, more individuals before practice, playing more, playing harder and simply being better. Weíve had to make little adjustments like that all throughout the year."
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