By Jeff White (email@example.com)
The University of Virginia men’s tennis team, riding a 21-match winning streak, hasn’t experienced defeat in more than three months. That doesn’t mean this has been a stress-free season for the reigning NCAA champion Cavaliers.
“We had some setbacks at the beginning of the season,” junior Alexander Kiefer said Saturday, “so I’m really just proud of the whole team for fighting and staying in there.”
The Wahoos’ four losses, all indoors, came during a 17-day stretch in February. The Hoos avenged one of those defeats on Friday, eliminating fourth-seeded Kentucky 4-2 in the NCAA quarterfinals, and they have an opportunity to get more payback on Sunday.
At noon, fifth-seeded Virginia (29-4) meets No. 3 seed Ohio State (34-2) for the NCAA title at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla. The match will stream live on NCAA.com. This will be the third meeting between these teams this season.
The Buckeyes, then ranked No. 1 nationally, beat the Cavaliers 4-1 on Feb. 11 at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville. Eight days later, Ohio State blanked UVA 4-0 in a consolation match at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Chicago. But the Hoos haven’t lost since then, and his players are eager to take on the challenge awaiting them Sunday, said head coach Andres Pedroso.
“They work super hard, they’re super prepared, they’ve been in a lot of big moments,” Pedroso said. “So we’ll be ready with our best stuff. It’s gonna be a great match.”
To advance to the final, Virginia had to vanquish the tournament’s No. 1 seed, Texas, in the semifinals. At times momentum swung in the Longhorns’ direction Saturday, but the Hoos grew stronger as the match went on and secured a 4-1 victory.
“Credit to the Texas Longhorns,” Pedroso said. “That program is so professional, their coaches are so classy, their players battle so hard. It was such a fair match.”
In 2022, when the Hoos captured the program’s fifth title, Kiefer was not in their NCAA tournament lineup. But he’s been playing No. 5 singles in the NCAAs this year, and he won in straight sets in the quarterfinals and then prevailed a third-set tiebreaker to clinch the Cavaliers’ triumph Saturday.
ALEX KIEFER WITH CLINCH #NCAAMTEN #GoHoos ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/sI7grfN7gv
— Virginia Men’s Tennis (@UVAMensTennis) May 20, 2023
“It was a huge team effort,” said Kiefer, who’s from The…
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