Jan. 29, 2011
After a disappointing loss the afternoon before, senior Matteo Fago said he intended on taking care of business on his court Saturday.
He wasn't kidding.
Fago collected a perfect 6-0, 6-0 shutout at the No. 4 position to help lead the third-ranked Tennessee Volunteers to a 7-0 victory over Clemson in the championship match of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend at the Goodfriend Tennis Center.
With the win, the Vols advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle from Feb. 18-21. Tennessee was a finalist in the event last year, falling to Virginia in the title match.
The Vols earned a hard-fought 6-1 win against San Diego on Friday, and Tennessee got off to a fast start again Saturday by winning the doubles point against Clemson to take the early 1-0 lead.
Fago, ranked 38th, had suffered UT's only loss against San Diego, but he bounced back for his match against Clemson's Cal Hilsman. He quickly won 6-0, 6-0 and was first off the courts for the Vols, giving his team the 2-0 lead.
Senior John-Patrick Smith followed more than 20 minutes later at with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Derek DiFazio, and sophomore Tennys Sandgren clinched the match for UT at 4-0 by beating Kevin Galloway 6-2, 6-3.
"It felt good to come back after yesterday's loss," Fago said. "I felt pretty good today, and we're all looking forward to the next matches."
But the team is not too far ahead, Fago added. The Vols play three difficult opponents - two of them on the road - before heading to Seattle for the National Team Indoors. Tennessee travels to No. 16 Illinois on Saturday. The Vols also have No. 14 Duke and No. 13 Louisville on the schedule.
Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said he has been pleased with the Vols' progression the first two weeks of the dual-match season, particularly when it comes to positive energy on and off the court.
"I thought today was great," Winterbotham said. "The energy was really good. The thing we established this weekend is that the whole team participated. It was the guys on the court and the guys upstairs cheering them on. The energy came from both sides."
In doubles, the Vols got another strong performance from their new No. 2 doubles team of Sandgren and sophomore Rhyne Williams. In their third collegiate match together, they dispatched of Juan Bolona and Dominique Maden 8-1.
Fago and sophomore Edward Jones, who got off to a slow start in their match against San Diego on Friday, were sharp on Saturday. They clinched the doubles point for the Vols with an 8-4 win at the No. 3 position against Yannick Maden and Zachary Rigsby.
"We knew what we had to do after yesterday," Fago said. "We tried to play with more energy and come out more ready to play. I think we did that pretty well, and we can see if we can do that in the next match as well."
After Sandgren clinched the match at 4-0 for the Vols, the rest of the matches were played out.
Williams extended his winning streak to 11 matches with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Yannick Maden on court 1, and Jones followed a minute later on court 6 with a 7-5, 6-3 win against Dominique Maden to improve to 3-0 in the dual-match lineup.
After cheering Jones to victory, the fans migrated across the facility to court 5, where senior Boris Conkic preserved the shutout with a 7-5, 6-3 win against Robert Pietrucha. Conkic has a 9-1 record since rejoining the Vols this spring.
Up Next: The Vols hit the road for their first road dual-match test of the season, facing No. 16 Illinois in Champaign. The teams faced each other two matches in a row in 2010, once in Knoxville and then again four days later at the ITA National Team Indoors in Charlottesville, Va. Tennessee won both meetings, even though Smith and Matt Brewer were out of the lineup with illness in Knoxville.
Notes: The win Saturday was the 97th of Sam Winterbotham's career at UT. He is on pace to be the fastest coach to 100 wins in program history ... Boris Conkic now has 95 career wins in singles. Only seven Vols have reached the 100-win milestone, one of them being fellow senior John-Patrick Smith, who has 131 wins.
Tennessee 7, Clemson 0
1. #1 Rhyne Williams (UT) def. Yannick Maden (CLEM) 6-3, 6-1
2. #21 John-Patrick Smith (UT) def. Derek DiFazio (CLEM) 6-1, 6-3
3. Tennys Sandgren (UT) def. Kevin Galloway (CLEM) 6-2, 6-3
4. #38 Matteo Fago (UT) def. Cal Hilsman (CLEM) 6-0, 6-0
5. Boris Conkic (UT) def. Dominique Maden (CLEM) 7-5, 6-4
6. Edward Jones (UT) def. Robert Pietrucha (CLEM) 7-5, 6-3
1. Derek DiFazio/Kevin Galloway (CLEM) vs. John-Patrick Smith/Boris Conkic (UT) DNF
2. Tennys Sandgren/Rhyne Williams (UT) def. Juan Bolona/Dominique Maden (CLEM) 8-1
3. Edward Jones/Matteo Fago (UT) def. Yannick Maden/Zachary Rigsby (CLEM) 8-4
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (4,2,3,1,6,5)