On a rainy and nasty Tuesday evening in Athens, Georgia, the No. 2 University of Virginia men’s tennis team defeated No. 9 North Carolina 4-2 to win the program’s third consecutive national championship. The matchup was the fourth of the year between these familiar ACC foes, with UVA winning each of the previous three. The match was hosted the University of Georgia’s Magill Tennis Complex and was delayed more than three hours before finally being played indoors.
When play finally began after 4:00 pm, the Cavaliers found themselves entrenched in a tough battle with UNC to determine the winner of the doubles point. Senior J.C. Aragone and junior Collin Altamirano defeated UNC’s Anu Kodali and Ronnie Schneider 6-1 at No. 3 doubles. Shortly after, however, the Tar Heels earned a victory at No. 1 doubles, with Robert Kelly and William Blumberg defeating Luca Corinteli and Carl Soderlund soundly, 6-2. The doubles point would come down to No. 2 doubles. In a tightly contested set, UVA prevailed, with Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Alexander Ritschard edging out Jack Murray and Simon Soendergaard in a tiebreaker, winning 7-6 (7-5 in the tiebreaker). This put the Cavaliers up 1-0.
In singles play, Alexander Ritschard (Zurich, Switzerland) made quick work of the Tar Heels’ Ronnie Schneider, notching a 6-1, 6-3 victory to put the Cavaliers up 2-0. The victory avenged Ritschard’s loss to Schneider in the ACC tournament. However, freshman William Blumberg of North Carolina quickly responded with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Thai-Son Kwiatkowski to bring the match score to 2-1. The Cavaliers would go up 3-1 with a straight sets victory from Collin Altamirano at No. 4 singles. UNC responded with a victory from Robert Kelly at No. 3 to narrow the margin to 3-2 and add suspense to the final two matches, at No. 5 and 6 singles.
J.C Aragone, who won the decisive match over Wake Forest to secure the ACC championship, has been labeled one of UVA’s clutch performers in program history. He fell behind 4-2 in the first set, but responded, grinding out the set in a tiebreaker, 7-2. Henrik Wiersholm also won his first set 6-4, creating a race to the finish. Aragone went on to win his match 7-6 (2), 6-2 to clinch the Cavaliers’ third consecutive national title and fourth in five years.
With the victory, Virginia won their 25th team national title in the university’s history. More importantly, the Cavaliers cemented their status as an elite tennis program. The team managed to sweep each of the year’s major competitions, winning the ITA National Indoor Championship in February, the ACC tournament championship in April, and finally, the NCAA championship. The Cavaliers stand alone as the nation’s premier program.
The match also cemented the legacy of Coach Brian Boland, as he will leave the team to take over as the Player Development Head of Men’s Tennis for the United States Tennis Association in Orlando, Florida. In 16 seasons, he amassed 2 National Coach of the Year Awards, 8 Final Four appearances, 4 national titles, 6 ITA Indoor titles, 10 ACC championships, and a remarkable record of 453-58.
In separate news, the program named its next head coach on Wednesday afternoon.Andres Pedroso was named the head men’s tennis coach and director of tennis by athletic director Craig Littlepage. Pedroso will look to continue the momentum for the men’s program while also overseeing the women’s program and helping select their next head coach. Pedroso previously served as the associate head coach from 2010-2014. Since then, he had coach privately in South Florida. He will begin serving on May 30th.