The Virginia men’s tennis team survived losing the doubles point and then waited out a four-hour rain delay before it finished off Ohio State on Monday in the NCAA Tournament Final Four in Athens, Ga. The Cavaliers have advanced to the National Championship match in six of the last seven seasons, winning three of the last four titles.
The Hoos will play North Carolina on Tuesday at 1 p.m. in search of their third straight National Championship.
“They stayed relaxed and calm in the bus during the delay,” Virginia coach Brian Boland said in a news release. “I was pleased with how we handled it. Congrats to Ohio State on a great season. They had a great run here and that was a great match.”
The Buckeyes claimed a 1-0 lead by taking a closely contested doubles point. UVA won at No. 2, while OSU won at No. 3 with both decisions coming by 6-4 scores. At No. 1, Mikael Torpegaard and Herkko Pollanen edged Luca Corinteli and Carl Soderlund 7-6 by a 7-3 score in the tiebreaker.
The Cavaliers wasted little time getting back into the match in singles play, though. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski cruised past J.J. Wolf at No. 2 in a 6-2, 6-2 match. With the overall team score tied at 1-1, Colin Altamirano pushed Virginia into the lead for the first time with a quick 6-0, 6-3 victory against Martin Joyce at No. 4. .C. Aragone moved the Wahoos to the brink of victory with a 6-3, 6-3 triumph at No. 5 singles against Pollanen.
Meanwhile, UVA’s Alexander Ritschard and Torpegaard swapped 6-2 scores in the first two sets of their match at No. 1 before wrestling all the way to a third set tiebreaker. Over on the No. 6 singles court, Virginia’s Henrik Wiersholm whittled his way to a 7-5, 6-5 lead with match point on his serve.
Then officials stopped all play for a rain delay at the first sign of precipitation. Wiersholm tried to play the possible deciding game at a quick pace, but Ohio State opponent Kyle Seelig took equal measures to slow the points down.
“I was on the court pretty frantically trying to rush him to go [to try to beat the rain],” Wiersholm said in a news release. “He was slowing down, but I wanted to play the point. Things like that happen and you have to be prepared for that and we talk about it all the time. Actually, coach had already talked about how in the past here in Athens there had been rain and had prepared us mentally for the possibility of it. In the moment when it happened, I was trying to rush but then I depressurized, relaxed with the guys and got some fuel in me. We waited it out and I was ready to go from the first point. It all panned out well for us.”
It panned out well quickly. After NCAA officials moved the match indoors due to ongoing rain, Wiersholm needed less than two minutes to put the match away. So while Ritschard fell in the third set tiebreaker nearby, the Hoos didn’t need to sweat out anymore drama.
They’ll try to keep that low-drama, one-step-at-a-time theme going in the title match against the Tar Heels. Virginia has defeated UNC three times this season, including a pair of tough 4-3 scores in the ACC regular season match and the ACC Tournament Semifinals. This is the first title match appearance for Carolina.
“We just had to keep things simple and make sure that we took care of our bodies and prepared for each point,” Boland said of Monday’s match. “That is what it comes down to. You can’t look ahead. You have to focus on the present.”