Virginia Surges To National Championship Repeat

Virginia Cavaliers
Inaki Montes de la Torre celebrates as Virginia repeats as National Champions. ~ Photo Courtesy Virginia Athletics Media Relations via Twitter

The Virginia tennis team may have been the only thing hotter than the tennis courts baking in the Orlando sun this weekend. The Cavaliers topped Ohio State 4-0 on Sunday to close out a late season surge with a repeat National Championship.

Just how hot were the Hoos at the end of the 2023 campaign? They won their final 22 matches of the season to finish 30-4 and marched through six NCAA Tournament matches while dropping only three team points in total. The fifth-seeded Wahoos ripped off the needed victories 4-0 against Navy, 4-0 against Ole Miss, 4-0 against Duke, 4-2 against Kentucky, 4-1 against Texas, and 4-0 against Ohio State.

Sunday’s title represented the program’s second with coach Andres Pedroso at the helm and its first repeat in his tenure. The Cavaliers also posted a three-peat in 2015, 2016, and 2017. UVA has won six total titles with all coming in the last 11 years.

In many ways the sequel looked a lot like the 2022 title run. Last season, Virginia captured the championship by winning its final 23 games on the schedule and rolling through the six NCAA Tournament matches while dropping only one team point. If you take the repeat titles combined, UVA outscored its opponents 48-4.

Nothing showed just how well the Hoos have played of late than the final two matches of the season. The Cavaliers flexed their lineup muscle during victories against Texas on Saturday and Ohio State on Sunday by winning each contest with completely different combinations.

Against the Longhorns, UVA grabbed the doubles point with wins at No. 2 (Chris Rodesch/Jeffrey von der Schulenburg) and No. 3 (Ryan Goetz/Alexander Kiefer) as both teams rolled 6-1. The Cavaliers then sealed the semifinal victory with singles wins from No. 4 (Goetz), No. 5 (Kiefer), and No. 6 (Dahlberg). Goetz defeated Siem Woldeab 4-6, 6-4, 6-1. Kiefer defeated Cleeve Harper 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (5) and Dahlberg defeated Nevin Arimilli 6-3, 6-2.

One day later against Ohio State, the Wahoos against claimed the doubles point but this time the wins came at No. 1 (Inaki Montes de la Torre/William Woodall) and No. 2 (Chris Rodesch/Jeffrey von der Schulenburg). Opposite from Saturday, they snared singles wins at No. 1 (Rodesch), No. 2 (Montes), and No. 3 (von der Schulenburg) to finish off the National Championship. The top of the order was dominant in the title match. Rodesch defeated Justin Boulais 6-4, 6-2. Montes dropped Cannon Kingsley 6-4, 6-2 and von der Schulenburg zipped past JJ Tracy 6-2, 6-1. Virginia also led at No. 5 in the third set and was tied at No. 4 at the start of the third set.

Sunday’s coronation proved to be quite the turnaround from two matches against Ohio State in February. The No. 1 Buckeyes rolled to a 4-1 victory in a head-to-head match on Feb. 11 in Charlottesville and then blanked UVA 4-0 in an ITA National Team Indoors match on Feb. 19 in Chicago. Virginia did not win any singles matchups in those two meetings.

Rodesch showed just how far things have come for the Hoos in three months since those losses. He lost in both February matches in straight sets, falling to Boulais 6-3, 1-6, 4-6 at home and to Kingsley 3-6, 2-6 in Chicago. Rodesch responded to that adversity by losing just one more match the rest of the season, while winning 13 straight decisions in team matches. That included victories in the Sweet 16, Elite 8, and National Championship matches. He was also named ACC Tournament MVP.

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  1. Quite a come-from-behind season.
    Yes, college tennis is international. I’m not crazy about this any more than I am NIL and transfer portal, but plenty of schools would be only too happy to be in UVA’s position. Our early losses and later wins suggest that coaching, practice, and competition do matter – not just recruiting all-stars.

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