Hoos Cruise To Sweet 16 Again

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Virginia’s Jarmere Jenkins cruised 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1, while Julen Uriguen took a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 6.

During Saturday’s NCAA Tournament opener at the Snyder Tennis Center, Virginia’s Jarmere Jenkins couldn’t find any consistency early against Fairleigh Dickinson and the Cavaliers clinched the match before Jenkins locked into a groove. UVa coach Brian Boland said afterward that he wasn’t worried about the ACC Player of the Year.

Jenkins showed why on Sunday. He dominated at No. 1 singles with a straight sets win that helped propel the Hoos to a 4-0 victory against VCU.

“No question. Jarmere is a gamer like I said yesterday and he was kind of in a battle with himself yesterday, which happens less than ever now but as I told you yesterday I had no concerns about that and I knew he’d be ready,” Boland said. “He always is. When tournament time comes, there’s nobody more prepared or who plays better tennis than Jarmere Jenkins.”

Certainly, no one played better tennis than Jenkins on Sunday. He cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 win against Alexis Heugas and effectively controlled the points throughout the match. Yes, you read that right. 6-0, 6-0. Double bagel.

“It’s amazing. You probably could go across the country right now and look at scores at one singles and you’re probably not going to find an 0 and 0,” Boland said. “It takes a tremendous amount of focus. Certainly his opponent is a good player too. He’s had some great results over the year.”

Indeed, Heugas is a good player with a top 90 spot in the latest ITA rankings. Plus, he earned the CAA Player of the Year honor with a 15-6 record entering the NCAA Tournament. Jenkins’ victory is even more impressive when you consider that the two met in the fall with Jenkins narrowly prevailing 7-5, 7-5.

“I kind of knew a little about him from when we played a close match in the regional final. I think [Andres Pedroso] watched him a little yesterday and came up with a pretty solid game plan I’d say. All I had to do was go out and execute,” Jenkins said. “I think me willing to last longer in the rallies [worked well]; I mean he kept checking out early and I don’t think he was in the best of shape. I think that was the only difference within the match was every time we’d get into a seven- or eight-ball rally, he’d check out.”

Boland was impressed with his team’s efforts beyond Jenkins’ stellar outing. Drew Courtney had another solid showing at No. 4 singles with a 6-3, 6-2 win against Antoine Baroz, while Julen Uriguen won 6-2, 6-2 against Jaime Vazquez at No. 6 singles. UVa also led all the other singles matches when the match ended.

Those performances followed a strong effort in doubles. Alex Domijan and Mitchell Frank claimed an 8-5 win at No. 3 doubles, while Uriguen teamed with Justin Shane to win 8-6 at No. 2. Jenkins and Courtney also led their match at No. 1 doubles 7-5 when the Hoos clinched the point.

It’s the doubles operation that is giving Virginia confidence moving forward.

“I think we’re in a really good spot,” Jenkins said. “I think the guys are coming around pretty good. I think the doubles really has stepped up from the beginning of the season. I think, for me, that means a lot that doubles is going really well and I know once we get that doubles point, we’re a tough team to beat in singles.”

“I was really impressed with our play. I thought we came out with a lot of energy in doubles,” Boland said. “I’m really thrilled with where our doubles is at this point and I think it’s going to really help us as we go down to Georgia for the round of 16. It’s something we’ve spent a lot of time on over the last month and we’ve come a long ways.”

The Cavaliers are headed to that Sweet 16 spot for the ninth straight season. Virginia, of course, has won six straight ACC Tournament titles and eight of the last nine league crowns. The Hoos also have posted 92 straight wins against ACC competition. In other words, by the conference and postseason measuring sticks, UVa’s program is one of the strongest in the nation.

Boland takes pride in his program’s year-to-year consistency.

“That’s the thing that I’ve told people that I’m most proud of with this program is that level of consistency that we’ve been able to find year in and year out,” Boland said. “It’s a credit to the players who continue to work hard and buy into the things that we do.”

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