Recap: Virginia Wins 4th NCAA Title
University of Virginia Sends Boland Off a Winner; Claims Third Straight National Title
ATHENS, Ga. -- The Storybook ending complete, University of Virginia Men's Tennis Head Coach Brian Boland finished up his live ESPNU interview arm-in-arm with his clutch, clinching senior J.C. Aragone, and two couldn't stop smiling.
Just moments before, Aragone was putting the finishing touches on his final collegiate masterpiece, a convincing 7-6 (2), 6-2 win over North Carolina senior Jack Murray at No. 5 singles to give Virginia (34-1) its fourth point and a 4-2 win over the No. 9 Tar Heels to give Boland and the Cavaliers their fourth national title over the past five years and third in row.
I always call J.C. Aragone the biggest warrior that I have ever coached and when he was one of the last matches on I was pretty comfortable,said Boland, after watching one of the most dominating teams in NCAA men's tennis history put away UNC on the indoors courts at the Don Magill Tennis Complex in Athens.
Aragone is from Yorba Linda, Calif., a quiet bedroom community of 65,000 residents in Orange County some 35 miles south of Los Angeles. Yorba Linda is best known as the birthplace of former President Richard Nixon, but after his exploits on Tuesday, Aragone became the "Pride of Yorba Linda," and you can throw in the "Toast of Charlottesville," some 2,800 miles away.
For the second straight day, weather delayed the start of the match and moved it indoors. With only four courts indoors, Aragone and teammate Henrik Wiersholm were left watching and waiting for a court to open up. Did Aragone feel the pressure once he took the court with his team leading 3-2, and Wiersholm starting his own battle at No. 6?
To be honest, none of that matters when you're on serve and up match point for an NCAA title, that all kind of goes out the window," Aragone said. "You have to just sack up and throw up the ball and hit it, because it's not going to go in on its own.
The victory was the last for Boland, who has been named the USTA Player Development Head of Men's Tennis and will begin that position in the coming weeks in Orlando. Boland's successor has yet to be named. Whoever it is, they better bring the biggest pair of shoes they can find.
A @UVAMensTennis Tweet said it all about Boland:
4 NCAA Championships (8 Final Fours)
6 ITA Championships
12 ACC Titles
No. 1 Ranking in 10 Seasons
With the doubles knotted at 1-1, thanks in large part to Collin Altamirano and Aragone winning 6-1 at No. 3, Virginia's No. 2 team of Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Alexander Ritschard came up huge in clinching the first point in a 7-6 (5) victory over Murray and Simon Soendergaard.
Boland was downright giddy about Ritschard's performance at No. 1 singles as the senior from Switzerland did his best Roger Federer impression in a dominating 6-1, 6-3 win over Tar Heel senior Ronnie Schneider.
"I consider Alexander Ritschard one of the most improved players over the past year that I have ever worked with and he kept plugging away and was so resilient," Boland said. "He lost a close one against arguably the best player in the country against Ohio State in a really close match with a tiebreaker in the third and we had a few talks over the last day but we just kept believing in him. I am just so proud of him and deserves so much credit for what he has done for the team and the program. He has been so selfless in his time here and he has grown so much, as have the rest of the players."
Following a Kwiatkowski loss at No. 2 to ITA Freshman of the Year Blumberg, Altamirano also left no doubt with his 6-3, 6-1 win over Soendergaard on the fourth court. North Carolina hung in there, however, after Robert Kelly's two-set win on the third court to make the match score 3-2.
Schneider is on his way out, but is leaving the program in good hands in handing the reins to Blumberg. "I committed to UNC the year before I got there, and they didn't even make the NCAA tournament, so, now look four years later, we are in the finals of competing, and very close, in my opinion, to winning a national championship," Schneider said. "Before that, three straight Elite Eight's, where we hadn't made Elite Eight for 25 years. It has been amazing."
He continued: "I couldn't ask for more; this is everything I could have ever dreamed of. Obviously, we did not come out on top today. We were talking last night, growing up watching college tennis, when I was 12 or 13 years old, never did I ever dream I would be at the stage to be at a national championship, and so this is, for me, far exceeded my entire tennis expectations, ever."
A college coaching career in the books for Brian Boland, the last years have far exceeded anything he could have ever imagined. On Tuesday, an exclamation point was put on one hell of a coaching run for Boland and his Cavaliers! See the complete results here.