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ORLANDO — The fifth-ranked University of Virginia men’s team triumphed in the NCAA Division I men's team final for the second year in a row, and sixth time in the last 10 tournaments played, with a 4-0 win over third-ranked Ohio State on Sunday.

Thursday evening’s quarterfinal matches were moved to Friday morning due to rain at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., which then pushed back the men’s semifinals to Saturday morning and the final to Sunday morning. As a result, the season finale was the third match in as many days in the wilting Florida heat for both teams after originally being scheduled for three night matches at the final site.

After losing 6-3 at the No. 3 doubles spot, Virginia quickly rebounded with 6-2 and 6-3 wins at the No. 2 and No. 1 spots to grab the doubles point for a 1-0 lead. Virginia was more clutch when needed, winning six of the seven no-ad deciding points across the three courts.

The defending national champions kept the momentum going at the start of singles, winning sets at the top four positions while Ohio State took first sets at the fifth and sixth spots, meaning the Buckeyes needed to win at least two three-setters in order to have a comeback victory.

The elite trio of third-year players for the Cavaliers who man the top three spots in the lineup all came up huge during the biggest match of the season, picking up straight-set victories for a sweep of the Buckeyes.

First, Jeffrey von der Schulenburg bounced back after his rough loss in the semifinals to Micah Braswell of Texas, where he had won just three games, to only lose three games himself to JJ Tracy at the No. 3 singles spot. Chris Rodesch then gave the Hoos a commanding 3-0 lead with his 6-4 6-2 win at the No. 1 spot over Justin Boulais, before Iñaki Montes de la Torre ended up as the match’s clincher.

The Spaniard sealed the win with his own 6-4, 6-2 victory at No. 2, and tossed his racquet in the air as he was swarmed by his teammates to celebrate.

“It's a bit surreal, like it was when we won it last year,” Virginia head coach Andres Pedroso said in his post-match presser. “I give all the credit to the guys, to the staff, the coaches. This is such a team effort. So many people have put so much time into a process like this and the players are really special, really special. It was a tough semester. We went through a lot and they just hung in there and they trusted us. It's a credit to the way they were brought up by their families, to their character, to their values, to what they prioritize in life.

"I'm just so lucky to have these guys because they're just such a pleasure to coach, so all the credit to the guys.”

Pedroso also attributed the team’s success to their discipline and mental toughness on and off the court.

“We’ve been saying it for months, it’s not about the tennis when it comes to tournaments like this," he said. "It’s about body language, self-talk, how close the team is, how you compete, how you deal with the ups and downs. And if you do that, whatever tennis you have that day, is going to be enough in most cases. Sometimes you’re just going to get beat even if you do those things but if you do those things, you’re going to give yourself the best chance so it was more about focusing on us and what we look like out there, what we’re saying to each other, what we’re saying to ourselves and just really focusing on the mental side.”


The loss is especially painful for the Buckeyes who are still searching for their first outdoor title in May, and also because they dropped just one point to the Cavaliers in two matches earlier this season. The biggest difference between those two matches and Sunday’s battle? February’s two meetings were played indoors. The Buckeyes have reached six ITA National Indoor Team Finals under head coach Ty Tucker that includes titles in 2014 and 2019, displaying their dominance on fast indoor conditions.

“We play a lot of tennis indoors,” Tucker said after the match. “We beat them twice indoors and we beat them last year, too. We beat them pretty good last year and they ended up winning the NCAA tournament last year as well.”

Tucker revealed he saw a difficult path to victory for his team if they were unable to win the doubles point due to certain matchups in singles not necessarily being advantageous for the Buckeyes in a physical environment outdoors. Unlike the regular season, when coaches can move players up or down one spot between matches, the order of the lineup is locked at the NCAA tournament.

"I didn't want Kingsley on Montes, but you can't avoid it," Tucker said. "That's not to say anything negative about Kingsley. He's our horse. He's our rock. He's a two-time All-American, a two-time Big Ten Player of the Year. He's our guy, but when you've seen as many matches as I've seen, you know where you feel good. ... Kingsley’s a big point for us, especially if we’re down a doubles point. There’s not a lot of math that leads to us getting four without Cannon Kingsley getting a win.

"Before every match, everybody figures out their math to four (wins). I was struggling to find four last night and the longer I stayed up, the more I didn't find it."

Among those in attendance were the athletic directors of both respective universities, Carla Williams of Virginia and Gene Smith of Ohio State, as well as Roger Federer’s long-time manager Tony Godsick of TEAM8 whose son Nico, a former Top 25 ITF junior, will begin his college career at Stanford in the fall. Stanford alums Bob and Mike Bryan were also there, as later in the evening, they were inducted into the ITA men's Hall of Fame.

With just one starter from each of their singles lineups graduating, as well as both teams bringing in a few new players next season, the Buckeyes and Cavaliers will be among the favorites to win the 2024 NCAA title in Stillwater, Okla. One of those notable additions is Top 50 pro Brandon Nakashima’s brother, Bryce, who is joining Ohio State as a freshman this fall.

Virginia is now in the midst of their second dynasty, after Pedroso’s predecessor Brian Boland led the Hoos to national championships in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Pedroso gained valuable experience from serving as Boland’s associate head coach from 2010-14 and being part of the program’s first national championship, before returning to Charlottesville in 2017 to take over the program right after that fourth national championship. The 2022 ITA National Coach of the Year has since successfully rebuilt the program and added two more titles to the team’s tally.

The ATP had a strong presence at the event with senior vice president of player relations, Fernando Sanchez; director of public relations, Greg Sharko; and managing editor of digital marketing, Paul Macpherson, all in attendance for the finale of the college tennis season. The men’s tour announced a massive initiative for college tennis earlier this year, bringing forth further opportunities for male student-athletes making the transition from college to the pro tour.


“For the ATP, it was clear that we needed to develop a better pathway for kids and we did the Accelerator Programme in collaboration with the ITF at the beginning of the year and next was college where we thought the level was really high,” Sanchez said. “A lot of kids are coming on tour through this pathway, as we have 14 guys in the top-100 of singles right now. It was needed and it was a long time due. We’re super happy to be around and to collaborate with the ITA…it was a no-brainer for us.”

Starting July 1 of this year, ATP Challenger Tour playing opportunities will be allocated to the college players with the highest ITA rankings at the end of the season, bringing even more intrigue to this week’s NCAA individual tournament.

Per the ATP: “Players ranked in the Top 20 of the ITA final singles rankings at the beginning of June, who have finished their education, will be granted up to eight Accelerator Spots at Challenger 50 and 75 tournaments, with opportunities split between main draw (Top 10) and qualifying (11-20). Players who reach the quarter-finals or better of the individual NCAA Division I Tennis Championships will also qualify for the Accelerator Programme if not already eligible via their ITA ranking.”

The ITA rankings have not been released since the start of the month prior to the NCAA Tournament, so weeks of results have yet to be counted, in addition to this week’s event where 64 of the nation’s best will compete for a national championship, All-America status, and spots in the inaugural Accelerator Programme.