2020 NCAA Preview:
Arthur Kapetanakis | January 17, 2020
The University of Virginia dominated the 2010s in men’s tennis, winning four titles in the decade, including a three-peat from 2015-17. After their 2019 campaign ended at the hands of Wake Forest in the NCAA quarterfinals at the USTA National Campus, the Cavaliers enter this spring season as the ITA’s No. 10-ranked team.
Despite losing ACC Freshman of the Year Brandon Nakashima to the professional tour, third-year head coach Andres Pedroso returns ITA preseason No. 1 Carl Soderlund and junior Gianni Ross for the spring.
Soderlund spent the fall competing on the ITF World Tennis Tour, winning a singles title at an M15 event in Belgium in addition to a semifinal appearance at the M15 USTA Pro Circuit event in Fayetteville, Ark.
“He’s going to be our leader,” said Pedroso. “He’s a workhorse, a great competitor with a ton of experience, so that’s someone the team is going to be looking for, as far as leadership goes.”ADVERTISEMENT
Ross (pictured above), a USTA Player Development product ranked No. 68 in the latest ITA singles list, is coming off a team-high 21 singles victories last season. He also clinched victory for UVA in their first- and second-round NCAA matches in 2019.
“He’s in his third year now, with two years of good experience under his belt,” said Pedroso. “He’s played a lot of big matches. Those are two guys [Ross and Soderlund] I think can really help us.”
Sophomore Ryan Goetz is also among the ITA’s Top 125, at No. 115, but the rest of the team is relatively young and unproven. For Pedroso, that just means there’s more room to grow during the season.
“I think we’ve got a lot of depth and we’ve got a lot of guys that can step up and play against the best teams,” he said. “I think we’re dangerous.
“The new guys, they accept constructive criticism extremely well (laughs). This is a group that’s willing to learn and work hard and grow and be uncomfortable. So I think that’s why this team is going to keep getting better and better, and that’s why hopefully we’ll play our best tennis in April and May.”
The Cavaliers opened their season with a doubleheader sweep on Jan. 15, topping Furman and Washington & Lee in Charlottesville by identical 7-0 scorelines. They will open ACC play with a trip to Louisville on Jan. 18.
“We’ve got a tough schedule,” said Pedroso. “The ACC is as packed as always. We’re looking forward to it.”