The Virginia men’s tennis team is moving on to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.
Before the No. 5 Cavaliers’ match against No. 12 Stanford on Saturday in the Charlottesville Super Regional, Coach Andres Pedroso left his team with a message.
“I told the guys that no matter what the score is, we are always in it,” Pedroso said. “Never give up, and that’s what these guys do.”
The sentiment resonated, and Virginia picked up a 4-2 victory to advance.
The match started at the Snyder Tennis Center, but was moved to the indoor courts at Boar’s Head Sports Club due to heavy rain in the middle of singles play.
After taking the doubles point, the Cavaliers fell behind 2-1 early in singles. No Wahoos player would lose another singles match. Senior Aswin Lizen knotted the score at two with a 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Stanford freshman Sangeet Sridhar, then freshman Brandon Nakashima pushed UVa ahead with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win over Cardinal freshman Alexandre Rotsaert.
The deciding point was clinched by junior Carl Söderlund, the No. 30ranked player in the latest Oracle ITA Rankings. He defeated Cardinal sophomore Axel Geller, the No. 13-ranked player. Söderlund stormed to a 6-0 win the first set, but Geller battled back to claim the second, 7-5. Söderlund won the third set, 6-1.
“[Geller] came out shooting,” Söderlund said. “When I was up, he played well. [In between the second and third set], I told myself, ‘You can’t give up, for the team, for everyone out here. You can’t just let one set get you and let everyone down.’ I got a good start [in the last set]. I told myself that I needed to come out with the energy, because if I came out quiet, he was just going to keep shooting. I thought ‘energy, energy, energy,’ and it worked out.”
Next, the Cavaliers will play No. 4 Wake Forest in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The Demon Deacons recently defeated the Cavaliers in the ACC Tournament championship game.
“It is really special to be in the mix with the top eight teams,” Pedroso said. “It is always fun to go to the main event and battle against the best. That’s why these kids chose UVa.”