Feb. 13, 2011
DURHAM, N.C. -- Tennessee senior John-Patrick Smith arrived to the courts just five hours before the match, but he was prepared to play.
After being honored by the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame at a banquet the evening before, Smith defeated ninth-ranked Henrique Cunha in a third-set tiebreaker to finish the Vols' 7-0 victory over 14th-ranked Duke at the Sheffield Center.
With the win, Tennessee improved to 5-0 with three shutouts. Duke fell to 6-2.
Smith and head coach Sam Winterbotham attended the TSHF annual induction banquet in Nashville on Friday night, where Smith became the first UT tennis player for be honored as the Male Amateur Athlete of the Year. They flew into Durham on Saturday morning to get ready for Duke.
"Chris (Woodruff) and I talked and we knew, if anyone could handle that kind of preparation and would still be focused and ready, it was JP," Winterbotham said. "That's why he's great. He does everything right. He takes care of himself, handles himself regardless.
"He's just beaten one of the best players in college tennis because JP is one of the best players in college tennis."
After clinching the doubles point, the Vols took the first set on all six courts in singles. Senior Matteo Fago was the first off the courts with a 6-4, 6-3 victory against Fred Saba on court 4. Fellow senior Boris Conkic extended his winning streak to eight matches by defeating Jared Pinsky 6-4, 6-4.
From there, however, Duke rallied to force a third set on the remaining four courts. Sophomore Edward Jones clinched the win on court 6 by beating Luke Marchese 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.
Once the match was clinched, the remaining courts played 10-point tiebreakers instead of full third sets. Top-ranked sophomore Rhyne Williams beat fifth-ranked Reid Carleton 7-6, 6-7, 1-0 on court 2, Williams' second win against the Duke senior this season. Sophomore Tennys Sandgren followed a few minutes later with a 6-4, 6-7, 1-0 win on court 3 against Chris Mengel.
All that left was Smith, who was playing on court No. 1 for the first time this season.
Smith won the first set 7-5 and was serving for the second set at 5-3 but Cunha stormed back to take the second set 7-6. Smith regained his composure in the third-set tiebreaker 10-8.
"I was just trying to relax as much as I could going into the match," said Smith, who earned his team-leading 23rd win. "It was a late night last night, but it was a great time and I had a lot of fun. Coming in and sweeping a great team like Duke is a pretty good feeling and a great start to the weekend."
In doubles, the Vols' locked up the point for the 18th consecutive time. Fago and Jones defeated Mengel and David Holland 8-3 on court 3. Smith and Conkic clinched the point with an 8-4 victory over 12th-ranked Carleton and Cunha.
The Vols' top duo improved to 8-1 this spring with three wins already against top 20 pairings.
After a quick turnaround, the Vols return to Knoxville to host Louisville on Monday at the Goodfriend Tennis Center. The match starts at 2 p.m. and admission is free.
Tennessee 7, Duke 0
1. #21 John-Patrick Smith (UT) def. #9 Henrique Cunha (DUKE), 7-5, 6-7 (6), 1-0 (8)
2. #1 Rhyne Williams (UT) def. #5 Reid Carleton (DUKE), 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 1-0 (6)
3. Tennys Sandgren (UT) def. #118 Chris Mengel (DUKE), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 1-0 (8)
4. #38 Matteo Fago (UT) def. Fred Saba (DUKE), 6-4, 6-3
5. Boris Conkic (UT) def. Jared Pinsky (DUKE), 6-4, 6-4
6. Edward Jones (UT) def. Luke Marchese (DUKE), 7-5, 2-6, 6-3
1. John-Patrick Smith/Boris Conkic (UT) def. #12 Reid Carleton/Henrique Cunha (DUKE), 8-4
2. Tennys Sandgren/Rhyne Williams (UT) def. Jared Pinsky/Fred Saba (DUKE), 7-6
3. Matteo Fago/Edward Jones (UT) def. David Holland/Chris Mengel (DUKE), 8-3
Order of Finish: Singles (4,5,6,2,3,1); Doubles (3,1,2).