(Photos by Matt Riley, UVA Media Relations)
ATHENS, Ga. – The Virginia men’s tennis team (34-1) won its third-consecutive NCAA Championship by picking up a 4-2 victory over No. 9 North Carolina (29-5) on Tuesday (May 23) at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
The championship is the program’s fourth all-time NCAA title and its fourth in the last five years (2013, 15, 16 and 17). It is also Virginia’s second national championship this year, the previous coming at the ITA Indoor Championships in February.
“I want to congratulate the University of North Carolina on an unbelievable match and a great season,” said Virginia head coach Brian Boland. “They competed so hard. To beat a team as good as them four times in the same season is so difficult. We have so much respect for them. I am really proud of my players. They deserve everything they get. They work hard every single day and play for something bigger than themselves. I am so proud to be part of it and I appreciate what they have done.”
For the second-straight day, the match was hampered by weather. Originally slated to be played at 1 p.m., the match was pushed back to a 4 p.m. start time and moved to the indoor courts at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. With only four courts in the facility, court five and six singles were played after the first two singles matches were completed.
The Cavaliers took a hard-fought doubles point, clinching the early lead with a tiebreak victory, 7-6 (5), on the second court by seniors Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (Charlotte, N.C.) and Alexander Ritschard (Zurich, Switzerland). Virginia also cashed in on a convincing 6-1 win on court three from junior Collin Altamirano (Sacramento, Calif.) and J.C. Aragone (Yorba Linda, Calif.) in the day’s first result.
Virginia pushed its lead to 2-0 with a quick win on the top court, Ritschard’s 6-1, 6-3 win over #22 Ronnie Schneider. The Tar Heels countered with a win on the second court to draw within striking distance, 2-1.
The Cavaliers again found some cushion with a win by Altamirano on the fourth court, 6-3, 6-1, to push UVA to the precipice of its third-straight title, but that was delayed by Robert Kelly’s two-set win on the third court to make the match score 3-2. Aragone then finished off the Tar Heels with a 7-6, 6-2 win in his delayed match on the fifth court, sealing the championship for the Cavaliers.
“I consider Alexander Ritschard one of the most improved players over the past year,” Boland said. “He kept plugging away and was so resilient. He lost a close one against arguably the best player in the country yesterday against Ohio State [No. 2 Mikael Torpegaard] in a really close match with a tiebreaker in the third. We had a few talks over the last day but we just kept believing in him. I am just so proud of him and deserves so much credit for what he has done for the team and the program, he has been so selfless in his time here and he has grown so much, as have the rest of the players. I always call J.C. Aragone the biggest warrior that I have ever coached and when he was one of the last matches on I was pretty comfortable.”
The victory was the last for Virginia head coach Brian Boland, who has been named the USTA Player Development Head of Men’s Tennis and will begin that position in the coming weeks. Boland is a two-time ITA National Coach of the Year who has, in his 16 seasons with Virginia, amassed a 453-58 record, won four NCAA Championships, six ITA National Team Indoor titles, 12 ACC Championships and led his team to a No. 1 ranking in 10 seasons.
#2 Virginia 4, #9 North Carolina 2
- #91 Alexander Ritschard (VA) def. #22 Ronnie Schneider (NC) 6-1, 6-3
- #16 William Blumberg (NC) def. #14 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (VA) 6-3, 6-2
- #116 Robert Kelly (NC) def. Carl Soderlund (VA) 6-2, 6-4
- #40 Collin Altamirano (VA) def. Simon Soendergaard (NC) 6-3, 6-1
- #109 J.C. Aragone (VA) def. Jack Murray (NC) 7-6 (7-2), 6-2
- #102 Henrik Wiersholm (VA) vs. Blaine Boyden (NC) 6-4, 4-2, unfinished
- #12 William Blumberg/Robert Kelly (NC) def. #17 Luca Corinteli/Carl Soderlund (VA) 6-2
- Thai-Son Kwiatkowski/Alexander Ritschard (VA) def. #82 Jack Murray/Simon Soendergaard (NC) 7-6 (7-5)
- J.C. Aragone/Collin Altamirano (VA) def. Anu Kodali/Ronnie Schneider (NC) 6-1