Expectations high as 'Hoos host NCAA regional

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Postseason tennis is back in Charlottesville this weekend after a one-year absence.

Virginia is the No. 5 national seed in the NCAA men's tennis tournament. The Wahoos will face St. John's in Friday's opening round, with the winner advancing to play either South Carolina or East Tennessee State in the second round.

"The best time of the year," UVA men's tennis coach Andres Pedroso said Thursday at practice. "This is why these guys came to UVA, to play in tournaments like this and against these type of opponents. I feel like the guys are healthy and feeling good. We feel well prepared. We've got two battles ahead of us, lots of work to do, but yeah, it should be a great weekend."

UVA has played 28 NCAA matches at home in program history. The Cavaliers are 28-0 in those matches. Virginia has advanced out of the first weekend of the tournament 14 times in the last 15 years.

"Since it's a much bigger moment, the pressure can get a lot higher," said one of the Wahoos' captains, senior Aswin Lizen. "But I think that's when we have to do a really good job of making sure we make the right decisions, and just continuing to trust each other and trust our own games."

The only time UVA failed to advance to the second weekend of the tournament since 2004 was last year, when the Wahoos lost 4-2 at Columbia in round 2. That loss snapped the program's streak of three straight NCAA team titles, and a run of appearances in at least the quarterfinals that dated back to 2005.

"There's a lot of tradition, a lot of history in this program. And there's a lot to live up to in certain ways," said Pedroso. "But we try not to think about that. We take it a day at a time and do our best. That's always the only expectation for this time, just to do our absolute best and prepare the best we can, and play the matches together. Like one team."

The Wahoos enter this year's postseason with a 21-4 record that included a run to the championship of the ACC tournament. That loss to Wake Forest ended a nine-match winning streak for UVA.

"With the success that we've had here in the past, there's a lot of pressure coming in and playing for Virginia," said Lizen. "But I think what we did was we took a ton of lessons from what happened last year. We've all matured a ton. And we've been able to put it into matches this year and this semester. That's why we're in the position that we're in right now."