Hoos Top Alabama In Opener
Feb 13, 2010
Sanam Singh and the Cavaliers bounced back from their loss to Kentucky with a convincing win over Alabama to open the National Team Indoors tournament.
After the Virginia men's tennis team lost its first regular season match in nearly three years last Saturday against Kentucky, many followers may have wondered how the squad would bounce back. Cavalier coach Brian Boland, however, ensured reporters Thursday that his team would be fine, even as he completely revamped his doubles line-up for Virginia's opening-round match of the ITA National Team Indoors tournament.
The Cavaliers were more than fine - they were utterly dominant. The Hoos - the No. 2 seed in the tournament and the No. 2 team nationally - swept the doubles point and dropped just one set in singles, routing No. 15 seed Alabama 4-0 to open their first ever National Team Indoors campaign in Charlottesville. Alabama came into the weekend with a No. 19 national ranking - just five spots behind Kentucky, who defeated the Cavaliers 4-3 in Lexington a week earlier.
"Obviously after last week's disappointment against Kentucky, we wanted to come out here, and we had a little point to prove that we're still a force to reckon with," Sanam Singh said. "Our team mentality was the whole day, to come out with a lot of energy and not make them think that they had a chance."
Cavalier fans packed the limited bleacher seating at the event, which surprised Singh for the opening round of the tournament on a Friday night.
"I honestly thought if we went through [Friday], we'd get more people [Saturday], but I was really impressed with the people who came out today," Singh said. "That's so good for us, for our support. It's just so intimidating when you come out and the other team sees 500 people sitting there, and they get so loud."
The most notable result of the evening came on the doubles point, where Boland had reshuffled the pairings from a week ago. The Hoos combined to win 22 of 28 games as they swept the three doubles matches. With three different pairs a week ago, the Hoos were swept by Kentucky in the doubles point, losing each match by at least three games.
"The thing is, even though the teams are different, we know each other really well, we know each other's games really well," Singh said. "I wasn't too surprised when I saw Michael [Shabaz] and Drew [Courtney] cruising in their match, and [Jarmere Jenkins and Houston Barrick] have played before together. And Lee [Singer] and I have actually played before; in my first year we played a little bit. So it's not like it's totally new."
The Hoos continued to crush Alabama in singles. The only Cavalier player to drop a set in singles was No.3-ranked Michael Shabaz at the top singles slot, and he recovered to easily take the second set 6-1 before the team match concluded with him in the third. No. 12-ranked Sanam Singh earned redemption in a big way in the No. 2 singles slot, cruising to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Alabama's Ricky Doverspike after falling in straight sets in Virginia's loss to Kentucky.
"I was pretty satisfied with my performance today," Singh said. "That guy [Doverspike] is a pretty good player, and I didn't let him get into the match too much. I was solid, and focused in on my serves, and that helped me a lot."
No. 31-ranked Drew Courtney also made quick work of Jarryd Botha 6-2, 6-2 at the No. 4 singles slot, and No. 16-ranked Jarmere Jenkins clinched the match at the No. 3 slot, needing four match points to take down No. 123-ranked Michael Thompson 6-2, 6-2. No. 58-ranked Houston Barrick and No. 28-ranked Lee Singer also took their first sets and led the second when Virginia was declared the winner.
Waiting in the quarterfinal is Georgia, a familiar foe for Virginia. The teams' last meeting came in the final of last year's National Team Indoors tournament, which the Cavaliers won 4-1 in Chicago. Prior to that match, however, the Hoos had been thwarted by the Bulldogs three years in a row in the outdoor NCAA Championships, falling in the quarterfinals in 2006 and the semifinals in 2007 and 2008.
"I wouldn't call it a rivalry yet, just because they've gotten the better of us so many times," Shabaz said.
Perhaps the most disappointing of those losses came in 2008, when then-senior Somdev Devvarman and the Cavaliers headed into the National Semifinal undefeated, before Georgia handed Virginia its first loss of the season 4-3.
"Obviously you feel the disappointment from two years ago; I still sometimes [am disappointed]," Singh said. "I'm mostly over it now, but it took me a while to get over that."
Virginia's match against Georgia on Saturday will again be the last of the day, as it is slated to take the court at 6:30 pm at the Boar's Head Sports Club.
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