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Tops in Tennis

The 2016 men’s tennis team Matt Riley/UVA Media Relations

The University of Virginia continues to dominate tennis.

Coach Brian Boland’s men won their second consecutive NCAA championship this year, their third in four years. Only four other programs have repeated since 1966.

For the women, Danielle Collins (Col ’16) prevailed as this year’s NCAA singles champion, as she did in 2014, becoming the seventh woman with two national titles.

As trophies, and new recruits, continue to come its way, UVA has begun plans for a world-class tennis venue. The Board of Visitors in April discussed a preliminary proposal for a 12-court outdoor tennis stadium at the University-affiliated Boars Head Inn west of Grounds, an estimated $12 million project, the Cavalier Daily reported.

Two-time NCAA singles champion Danielle Collins Matt Riley/UVA Media Relations

Success didn’t come overnight. Boland arrived in 2002 to take over an unranked team. In three years, he led the men to the ACC title. In six, he got them to the NCAA semifinals.

Mark Guilbeau took over a women’s program in 2005 that had hit a 15-year low. Immediately he coached the team to a top-25 ranking. UVA women’s tennis reached the NCAA quarterfinals for the second time last season.

Guilbeau’s next challenge is to replace recent graduates Collins and Julia Elbaba (Col ’16), the latter UVA’s record-holder with 133 singles victories.

“They were unbelievable,” Guilbeau says. “But we might be able to be as strong in some ways because of better depth.”

Boland says that from UVA’s academic reputation to its Charlottesville setting, he’s confident the Cavs can break through the West Coast’s dominance. UCLA, USC and Stanford own 54 national titles, but only UVA has played in five of the last six finals.

“It’s hard to build a program to the top but even harder to stay there,” says Boland, twice the national coach of the year. “It’s something we talk about all the time.”

As the record shows, UVA Tennis doesn’t just talk a good game. It also plays one.