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April 24, 2011
CARY, N.C. - If the term "five-peat" sounds trite and manufactured, there's a much simpler way to sum up the end result of the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Tennis Championship.
The Virginia Cavaliers own the title again.
Coach Brian Boland's nationally No. 1 and top-seeded team downed third-seeded Duke by a 4-0 score in Sunday's finals match at Cary Tennis Park. Virginia became the first team to claim five consecutive ACC Men's Tennis Championships while winning their 77th consecutive match against conference opposition. This year's title is the Cavaliers' seventh in eight years.
"Each championship is special, and each group of kids is different," Boland said. "I am just so happy for this group of kids. They have worked so hard all year long. I don't know that I've had a more deserving group."
In addition to being the Cavaliers' fifth straight ACC championship, the title was Virginia's seventh in eight years.
"This feels every bit as good as the first championship," Boland said. "We don't take for granted winning an ACC championship. We have so much respect for the Atlantic Coast Conference across the board, especially in men's tennis."
After capturing the doubles match on Sunday, Virginia (29-0) took full control with singles wins on the No. 3 and No. 1courts. Sanam Singh defeated Chris Mengel 6-3, 6-3 at No. 3, while Michael Shabaz topped Henrique Cunha 7-5, 6-1 at No. 1.
The wins by seniors Singh and Shabaz, who shared the tournament's Most Valuable Player Award, gave Virginia 3-0 lead. Freshman Alex Domijan then finished the Cavaliers' job with a 7-6 (7), 6-0 win over Reid Carleton for the clinching point at No. 2.
Virginia became the second team to win the ACC Men's Championship with by three straight 4-0, 4-0, 4-0 match scores, equaling the accomplishment first achieved by the Cavaliers' 2009 squad.
The ACC title match win was Virginia's second straight over Duke. The Cavaliers won last year's meeting between the teams by a 4-2 score.
"Duke fought hard and they deserve a lot of credit," Boland said. "The score isn't reflective of how difficult that match was."
No. 5 Shabaz's win over No. 5 Cunha in the match between nationally top-10 ranked players allowed the Virginia senior to earn a measure of redemption. The pair had met on five previous occasions, with Cunha winning four matches and one ending in a no-decision. Cunha defeated Shabaz in last year's ACC Championship and won during the 2011 regular season by a 7-6 (9-7), 6-3 score for the Blue Devils' lone point in a 6-1 loss to the Cavaliers on April 1.
"He's gotten me a few times, so it was good to win against him today," Shabaz said. "All of our other matches have been close and decided at the end, and today I was able to get that first set and take advantage of some things that I hadn't before. He's one of the best players in the country. He's won a lot of matches in the ACC, and I have a lot of respect for him."
Both Virginia and the 13th-ranked Blue Devils (20-9) will await the announcement of NCAA team pairings on May 3. The individual and doubles draws will be announced the following day. NCAA Regional play begins on Friday, May 13.