In the jubilant moments following the program’s first-ever NCAA team championship, Virginia men’s tennis coach Brian Boland was already looking toward the future.
Boland turned to UVa Executive Associate Athletics Director Jon Oliver and, in a matter-of-fact tone, said, “We’re just getting started, right?”
With four of his top six singles players returning to the fold and an incoming recruiting class that is ranked No. 1 in the country, it wasn’t hyperbole.
Virginia’s 2013-14 roster figures to be every bit as talented as the one that defeated UCLA in Urbana, Ill., last week.
“It’s a nucleus of guys who have had all this experience and have been on this journey with us,” said Boland, during a press conference at the Boar’s Head Sports Club on Tuesday. “There’s nothing like having these experiences.
“I believe they’re as excited and as hungry as ever to continue to move forward as a program.”
Virginia’s two main losses are Jarmere Jenkins (No. 1 singles) and Julen Uriguen (No. 6 singles).
Rising senior Alex Domijan will slide easily into Jenkins’ spot.
Junior Mitchell Frank, the hero in Urbana, will likely play No. 2.
Sophomore Mac Styslinger, who teamed with Jenkins to win the NCAA doubles title, could play 3.
Spots four through six will be a battle between Ryan and Justin Shane, Harrison Richmond and newcomers Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Juan Aragone.
“The depth of this team will be just insane,” Jenkins marveled.
Boland called Kwiatkowski — the No. 1 -ranked recruit in the nation — “a tremendous talent.”
“He’s somewhere between Somdev [Devvarman] and Jarmere,” said Boland, when asked to describe Kwiatkowski’s playing style. “He moves incredibly well. He reads the game very well. He’s incredibly intelligent.
“But he has the ability to move forward and finish points at the net. He has great hands. He’s really an all-court player but just need to fine-tune those skills.”
As a junior, Styslinger saw some of Kwiatkowski, who is from Charlotte.
“He’s got an all-court game,” Styslinger said. “He volleys well and hits his forehand really well. He has a really complete game.”
Boland calls Aragone, who hails from California, an “aggressive baseliner.”
“He hits a clean ball, much like an Alex Domijan, but he’s a lot smaller in stature,” Boland said. “He has the ability to finish points at the net.
“He has a loose arm. He hits a big serve for his size. He’s another one who I think will have an immediate and long-term impact on our program.”
Other members of the recruiting class include Jordan Daigle (Louisiana) and Luca Corintelli (Northern Virginia).
With a national title now under his belt, Boland figures to be able to reel in even more talent in the future — if that’s possible.
“Every year,” said Virginia senior Justin Shane, “he finds a way to make the program just a little bit better.”
Boland didn’t get back from Urbana until late Monday night, but was already showing a 2014 recruit around Charlottesville on Tuesday.
Boland and his wife, Becky, planned on taking a well-deserved vacation beginning Thursday, but you can bet the workaholic won’t be far from his cell phone. He never is.
Jenkins, now moving on the professional ranks, agreed with Boland’s assertion that the program was just getting started.
“I think there are a lot more things to come,” he said.