It took two venues and two three-set wins, but the Virginia men’s tennis team clinched a trip to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals with a 4-2 win against Stanford on Saturday in the Charlottesville Super Regional. The Cavaliers have reached the quarters in 14 of the last 15 seasons.
“Credit to Stanford as every time we play them it is just a hard-fought match. They compete so well and are so resilient,” coach Andres Pedroso told reporters after the match. “Congrats to the Cardinal on a great season. I have a lot of respect for that program, one of the most storied programs in college tennis.”
The match began outdoors at the Snyder Tennis Center before rain forced a move to the Boar’s Head indoor courts. UVA jumped out to an early lead under cloudy skies thanks to capturing a close doubles point at the start of the match. Henrik Wiersholm and Brandon Nakashima rolled to a 6-2 win at No. 1 against Axel Geller and Alexandre Rotsaert.
Stanford led 5-2 at No. 2 doubles, but couldn’t tie things up before the Hoos clinched the point. Virginia’s Gianni Ross and William Woodall made sure of that in a tight battle at No. 3 doubles. That duo pulled out a 6-4 win late to take down Jack Barber and Sangreet Sridhar.
The Cavaliers kept their momentum going early in singles. Carl Soderlund cruised to a 6-0 win in the first set against Geller at No. 1, while Nakashima grabbed a 6-1 win in the first set against Rotsaert at No. 2. That’s when the cloudy skies turned into rainy skies at Snyder. Fans scrambled to their vehicles, while the teams hustled indoors. The decision to move the match to Boar’s Head came quickly.
So did a momentum shift. The Cardinal got wins from Sameer Kumar and Timothy Sah at No. 4 and No. 5 singles to take the lead in the match. Aswin Lizen got the Hoos back even with a win at No. 6.
That set the stage for the three-set wins that UVA needed to clinch the match. Nakashima lost a close second set 6-4 and fell behind early in the third as well, but he rallied for a 6-3 victory to put the hosts within a point of a win. The Hoos got that final one at No. 1.
After the comfortable 6-0 win outdoors and a 5-0 start in the second set, Soderlund suddenly lost seven straight games as Geller saved a match point. The flip in fortunes did not become a meltdown, though. He settled things quickly in the third set with a 6-1 win.
“Before the match, I told the guys that no matter what the score is, we are always in it. Never give up, and that’s what these guys do. They fight and they always have faith,” Pedroso said. “It was great to be able to play this here in Charlottesville with our fans and the community, because this place loves tennis. Now, it is really special to be in the mix with the top eight teams. It is always fun to go to the main event and battle against the best. That’s why these kids chose UVA and it is great that we have given them another opportunity to be there.”
Virginia squares off against ACC foe Wake Forest in the quarterfinals in Orlando on Thursday.