UCLA, Virginia highlight 2013 Men’s NCAA Tennis Tournament field

UVA Tennis

UVA returns many of the player from the 2011 national runner-up team. (Jason O. Watson – USA Today)

Entering the 2013 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship, 16 teams are looking to bring home the title. Here’s a look at the top pair of teams in this year’s tournament.

UCLA:

History makes UCLA one of the favorites in this tournament. The present makes them the No. 1 seed.

The Bruins captured their 37th-consecutive appearance in the NCAA round of 16 with a 4-0 win over Drake in the second round. The top-seeded Bruins face Vanderbilt, the No. 16 seed. The Bruins’ only loss in 2013 came in a tough 4-3 defeat to cross-town rival USC on Feb 17. This is their first No. 1 seed since 1999.

Winners of the Pac-12 regular-season and Tournament title, UCLA boasts one of the most talented rosters in the nation. No. 27-ranked player Dennis Novikov has come on strong to end the year, taking the 1-spot for the Burins to end the season. The sophomore is also one half of the team’s top doubles duo. He is one of three UCLA players to earn first-team All-Pac 12.

Marcos Giron has joined Novikov as his primary doubles partner and as a strong No. 2 player for the Bruins. Currently the No. 25 ranked player, Giron was ranked as high as No. 12 in the world. He has a team-high 31 wins and also earned first-team All-Pac 12 .

The Bruins’ No. 3 player, Adrien Puget, also earned All-conference first-team honors. Puget is currently the No. 22 ranked player in the nation. He is 21-4 overall, 10-2 in the 3-spot and 10-2 against ranked opponents.

UCLA also posts a strong roster near the bottom of the lineup. No 75-ranked player Dennis Mktchian earned Pac-12 honorable mention and currently mans the team’s No. 4 spot. No. 5 player player Clay Thompson, the No. 119 player, currently posts the team’s longest winning streak.

The depth has allowed UCLA to manhandle most opponents, especially in the lower-seeded matches where its No. 3-through-5 players often post better rankings than the other team’s best player. This was evident in the regional contest against Drake where the Bruins dominated the Bulldogs 4-0 to advance to the round of 16.

Virginia:

The defending men’s national indoor tennis champions are in prime position to take home the outdoor title as well.

Virginia, the No. 2 seed in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship have a strong, experienced roster and the talent to bring home another championship. They take on California in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

After an easy 4-0 win over No. 35 Minnesota in regionals, the 26-0 Cavaliers are hot heading into the tourney. After winning the ACC championship with their sixth-consecutive undefeated season in conference play and advancing to the round of 16 for the tenth-consecutive season, UVA is looking to overcome back-to-back runner-up finishes the past two seasons.

The Cavilers are led by Jarmere Jenkins, the ITA Atlantic Region Senior Player of the Year. The No. 3-ranked player in the nation posted a 35-4 record in singles play. Jenkins also earned All-ACC first-team honors for the fourth-consecutive season.

Behind Jenkins is fellow All-ACC first teamer Alex Domijan. The No.2-ranked singles player in the nation is, incredibly, the No. 2 player for UVA, giving the team the best top duo in the nation.

Mitchell Frank has also played well in the No. 3 role for UVA. The nation’s No. 39 player overcame an injury last fall to earn a second-straight All-ACC first-team recognition.

Freshman Mac Styslinger, the No. 28-ranked player in the nation, has given the Cavs another formidable player in the No. 4 spot. The ITA Atlantic Region Rookie of the Year is 28-7 in singles play.

Strong singles play has translated to success in doubles. Jenkins and Styslinger have teamed up to become the No. 4-ranked doubles pair in the nation, while Frank and Domijan currently sit at the No. 21 spot.

In addition to one of the best line-ups in the nation, the Cavs also have one of its best coaches. Brian Boland was named ITA Regional Coach of the Year for the fifth time in his 12 seasons with Virginia.

Just two teams of a strong field, expect the Bruins and Cavaliers to be in the thick of things until the championship match on May 21.

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