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Cavaliers defeat top-seeded Oklahoma 4-1 in final
WACO, Texas (VirginiaSports.com) - The third-ranked Virginia men's tennis team captured its second NCAA Championship in the past three years with a 4-1 victory over top-seeded Oklahoma in Tuesday's final at the Hurd Tennis Center. The Cavaliers (29-3), who also won the title in 2013, become the sixth program in NCAA history to win multiple men's tennis championships.
"I couldn't be more proud of the players," said head coach Brian Boland. "They have bought in to being a true team and the culture was tremendous. It has been a great journey with this group and I am so glad we could end this season with a championship. There is nothing more special for me than to see a group of young men work hard, come together and do things the right way, and then celebrate in the end."
The Cavaliers opened the match strong, winning the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead. Luca Corinteli (Alexandria, Va.) and Ryan Shane (Falls Church, Va.) gave Virginia the edge with an 8-4 win at No. 1 over Andrew Harris and Alex Ghilea. The other two matches finished simultaneously, giving Virginia a doubles sweep. Collin Altamrirano (Sacramento, Calif.) and J.C. Aragone (Yorba Linda, Calif.) finished an 8-5 win at No. 3 over Axel Alvarez and Jose Salazar just seconds before Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (Charlotte, N.C.) and Mac Styslinger (Birmingham, Ala.) closed out their 8-5 win at No. 2 over Dane Webb and Spencer Papa.
"We talked after the doubles about how resilient Oklahoma has been this year," said Boland. "They have lost the doubles point 11 times this season, and came back to win almost every one of those matches. They are used to being in that situation and we knew we had to get off to a good start in singles."
The teams split the six first sets, each winning three. The Sooners drew even in the match, 1-1, as Papa defeated Alexander Ritschard (Zurich, Switzerland) 6-3, 6-2 at No. 5 singles. Virginia retook the lead, 2-1, when Altamirano closed out a 6-3, 6-3 victory at No. 3 over Webb. Minutes later Kwiatkowski made the score 3-1 with his 6-3, 6-4 win at No. 4 over Ghilea.
The final point was secured by senior Mitchell Frank (Annandale, Va.), who also clinched the Cavaliers first national title in 2013. Frank had won the first set over Andrew Harris 7-5 at No. 2 singles and the second set was on serve at 5-5. After Frank held for 6-5, he had three match points by taking a 0-40 lead in Harris' service game. Harris saved those three chances, but Frank gained a fourth match point at ad-out. On that point, Harris hit a forehand into the net to give Frank the 7-5, 7-5 victory and the Cavaliers the national title.
"It is very special to not only win two championships, but to be able to clinch two championships," said Frank. "It is an incredible feeling to be able to go out on top. I was pretty relaxed out there, given the fact I was in a more intense situation a couple of years ago. I felt calm and just zoned in on my match and what I needed to do."
Frank was named the 2015 NCAA Men's Championship Most Outstanding Player and was selected to the NCAA All-Tournament Team at No. 2 singles. He was joined on the all-tournament team by Shane (No. 1 singles), Altamirano (No. 3 singles), Kwiatkowski and Styslinger (No. 2 doubles) and Altamirano and Aragone (No. 3 doubles).
"I said it last time we won a national championship, if there was one player we could have on the court to clinch a match, it would be Mitchell Frank," said Boland. "They guy is a warrior. He loves the game and is incredibly unselfish. To his credit, he really put the team above himself this year."
With the victory, the Cavaliers avenged all three of their regular season losses during the semifinals and finals of the NCAA Tournament. Virginia had lost to Oklahoma 4-3 on March 10 in Norman and had lost twice during the regular season to No. 2 Baylor, who the Cavaliers downed in the semifinals.
"Congrats to Oklahoma on a great season," said Boland. "(Oklahoma coach) John (Roddick) and I had talked a lot this year about what if we got to play each other in the final. It was too bad someone had to lose this match because it was a great way to end an incredible week of tennis."
The championship was the 22nd NCAA Championship in Virginia Athletics history. Combined with men's soccer's title in the fall, 2014-15 becomes the third school year that the Cavaliers have won multiple titles. Virginia also won two titles in 1992-93 (men's soccer and women's lacrosse) and 2009-10 (men's soccer and women's rowing).
Virginia joins USC, Stanford, UCLA, Georgia and William & Mary as the only schools to have won multiple titles in the 70-year history of the NCAA Men's Tennis Championship.
Virginia will have four players competing in the NCAA individual tournaments, which begin Wednesday at the Hurd Tennis Center. Shane, Frank and Kwiatkowski are in the 64-player singles draw and the duo of Shane and Corinteli are in the 32-team doubles draw.
#3 VIRGINIA 4, #1 OKLAHOMA 1
1. #2 Corinteli/Shane (UVa) def. #57 Harris/Ghilea (OU) 8-4
2. #42 Styslinger/Kwiatkowski (UVa) def. Webb/Spencer (OU) 8-5
3. Altamirano/Aragone (UVa) def. Alvarez/Salazar (OU) 8-5
Order of Finish: 1,3,2
1. #8 Ryan Shane (UVa) vs. #1 Axel Alvarez (OU) 4-6, 5-5 DNF
2. #20 Mitchell Frank (UVa) def. #7 Andrew Harris (OU) 7-5, 7-5
3. #77 Collin Altamirano (UVa) def. #44 Dane Webb (OU) 6-3, 6-3
4. #19 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (UVa) def. #103 Alex Ghilea (OU) 6-3, 6-4
5. Spencer Papa (OU) def. Alexander Ritschard (UVa) 6-3, 6-2
6. J.C. Aragone (UVa) vs. Florin Bragusi (OU) 6-7(5), 4-6, 1-0 DNF
Order of Finish: 5,3,4,2