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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Top-ranked Virginia Reaches Semifinals with 4-2 Victory over No. 9 UCLA

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Athens, GA--

The loss of the doubles point didn't faze No. 1 ranked Virginia as the Cavaliers dug in during the singes portion of the competition to take a 4-2 victory over UCLA.

The once-beaten Virginia squad needed to win both doubles matches on the court after UCLA's Haythem Abid and Matt Brooklyn quickly defeated Houston Barrick and Sanam Singh 8-2. Virginia's Drew Courtney and Michael Shabaz were up 7-4 at No. 1 doubles, but won only one game after that, falling in a tiebreaker seven points to four. At No. 3 doubles, Lee Singer and Jarmere Jenkins trailed most of their match with UCLA's Alex Brigham and Holden Seguso but were leading 8-7 when the No. 1 court match finished.

Having lost the doubles point to Tennessee at the National Team Indoor finals in February, Virginia was not unfamiliar with the situation. In that match the Cavaliers came out on fire in singles, posting a 4-1 win, and handing the Volunteers their only loss of the season. On Sunday, Virginia could only garner three first sets in singles, but tied the score early on with Michael Shabaz's 6-3, 6-2 win over Nick Meister at No. 1. Despite facing a set point in the second set against Amit Inbar, Drew Courtney posted a 6-3, 7-5 win at No. 5 for Virginia, making it 2-1 for the Cavaliers. Sanam Singh gave Virginia a 3-1 lead with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Haythem Abid at No. 2, and moments later UCLA's Matt Brooklyn took out Jarmere Jenkins 6-4, 6-3 to make it 3-2.

The match would come down to courts 5 & 6, where Virginia had lost the first sets, but had come back to win the second. UCLA's Holden Seguso and Houston Barrick were deadlocked at 1-1 in the third set on court 5, and two January freshmen, Julen Uriguen of Virginia and Maxime Tabatruong were on court 6, with Uriguen leading 3-0.

Uriguen had barely played during the season for Virginia, but head coach Brian Boland said intuition led him to insert Uriguen in the lineup here in Athens.

"It's something we waited for until the time was right," Boland said. "It just happened to be the NCAA Sweet Sixteen when we put him in. As a coach, your gut tells you it's time. It was a lot of different factors involved, but Julen was playing good tennis and working hard. We all really believed in him and he stepped up."

UCLA coach Billy Martin couldn't say the same for Tabatruong.

"I hate to say it, but as a coach, you worry a little bit how the freshmen are going to handle it," Martin said. "He's really new at this just starting with us in January...he hasn't sustained his level of play, he drops down a little bit once he gets behind, he seems to get a little rattled. That will come with maturity, and I hope we can help him as coaches. He's certainly a talented kid."

Tabatruong couldn't find any way out of the downward spiral he was in, and Uriguen took a 5-0 lead. Serving for the semifinals, Uriguen saw his first match point come and go when he hit a forehand long, but after Tabatruong netted a return, he had a second chance. This time he lined up a forehand and hit a clean down the line winner, as relaxes as any senior on that stroke.

Virginia's opponent in semifinals is Southern California, who ousted the top-ranked Cavaliers in the 2009 quarterfinals.

"They're a great team, and we have an awful lot of respect for USC," said Boland. "They lost only one of their starters from last year, and the same goes for us. They're a very strong team and they've had a great year so far, so it should be another great match. It's two teams I think belong, and it's going to be fun."

#1 VIRGINIA (39-1) def. #9 UCLA (17-7), 4-2
Head Coaches: Brian Boland (Virginia) and Billy Martin (UCLA)
Doubles (Order of finish: 2,1)
1. #16 Amit Inbar/Nick Meister (UCLA) def. #14 Michael Shabaz/Drew Courtney (VIRGINIA), 9-8(4)
2. Haythem Abid/Matt Brooklyn (UCLA) def. #41 Houston Barrick/Sanam Singh (VIRGINIA), 8-2
3. Lee Singer/Jarmere Jenkins (VIRGINIA) vs. Alex Brigham/Holden Seguso (UCLA), 8-7, unf.

Singles (Order of finish: 1,4,2,3,6*)
1. #11 Michael Shabaz (VIRGINIA) def. #71 Nick Meister (UCLA), 6-3, 6-2
2. #14 Sanam Singh (VIRGINIA) def. #51 Haythem Abid (UCLA), 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
3. #58 Matt Brooklyn (UCLA) def. #57 Jarmere Jenkins (VIRGINIA), 6-4, 6-3
4. #46 Drew Courtney (VIRGINIA) def. #117 Amit Inbar (UCLA), 6-3, 7-5
5.#106 Houston Barrick (VIRGINIA) vs. Holden Seguso (UCLA), 2-6, 6-4, 2-3, unf.
6. Julen Uriguen (VIRGINIA) def. Maxime Tabatruong (UCLA), 5-7, 6-2, 6-0