Feb. 14, 2009
Eighth-ranked Tennessee roared into the semifinals of the ITA Indoor National Championships on Saturday night, rallying past top-ranked Ohio State for a 4-3 victory in Chicago.
The Vols lost the doubles point and trailed 2-0 before turning things around. Matteo Fago clinched the win for Tennessee with a straight-set triumph at the No. 4 position.
"We're a resilient team and a confident team," UT head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "We believe in ourselves. We didn't panic when we lost the doubles point. We stayed together and focused on getting four points in singles.
"What was really impressive to (associate head coach) Chris (Woodruff) and me was how we stuck together. The guys that finished their match came right over and started to support the guys that were still playing. The guys who weren't in the lineup at all today were the loudest guys in the building. This is a team and we're showing it.
"Different guys are stepping up at different times. We're not relying on any one individual. Different guys step in when they are needed and Chris and I could not be prouder."
Fago clinched the win for Tennessee (7-0) with a straight-set win over 38th-ranked Balazs Novak at the No. 4 position. The UT sophomore won the first set, 6-3, but found himself down a break, 3-1 in the second set. The Italy native settled down and battled back to put the match back on serve. Both players held serve until the set was tied at five, when Fago was able to break Novak's serve to take the lead, 6-5, and then was able to serve out to win the set and the match, 6-3, 7-5.
Ohio State (8-1) took an early 1-0 by winning the doubles point. Matt Allare and Novak defeated UT's Matt Brewer and Christian Hansen at the No. 3 position, 8-3. The Buckeyes' clinched the point at the No. 1 spot, where Justin Kronauge and Steven Moneke defeated Davey Sandgren and John Patrick Smith, 8-4. This is the second time this season that UT failed to win the doubles point. The Vols also lost the doubles point to Louisville but battled back in that match to win, 4-3.
The Vols stemmed any Ohio State momentum at the beginning of singles by capturing the first set in four of the six matches.
Ohio State still struck first in singles though, when the nation's third-ranked player, Steven Moneke, defeated UT's Sandgren, 6-3, 6-2 at the No. 3 position to extend the Buckeyes' lead to 2-0.
Smith put the Big Orange on the board with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Koniecko at the No. 1 position. Koniecko was the No. 1 ranked singles player in the country and Smith's victory snapped his 16-match win streak.
Brewer tied the match at two with a 6-3, 6-4 win over 77th-ranked Shuhei Uzawa at the No. 6 position. Brewer, the defending SEC Player of the Week, has played in UT's last three matches and has had two clutch victories in that span.
Boris Conkic gave UT a 3-2 lead with a 6-3, 6-4 win over the nation's sixth-ranked singles player, Kronauge, at the No. 2 position. Conkic, ranked 103rd in singles, has defeated the 13th and now the sixth-ranked player in the country this tournament.
Ohio State tied the match at three, when Allare defeated Hansen, 7-6, 7-5 at the No. 5 position.
The Vols will face either fourth-ranked UCLA or fifth-ranked Virginia Sunday at 4 p.m. in the semifinals. Live scoring for the match can be found at UTsports.com.
|No. 8 Tennessee 4, No. 1 Ohio State 3|
|1. No. 50 John-Patrick Smith (UT) def. No. 1 Bryan Koniecko (OSU)||6-4, 6-3|
|2. No. 103 Boris Conkic (UT) def. No. 6 Justin Kronauge (OSU)||6-3, 6-4|
|3. No. 3 Steven Moneke (OSU) def. Davey Sandgren (UT)||6-3, 6-2|
|4. Matteo Fago (UT) def. No. 38 Balazs Novak (OSU)||6-3, 7-5*|
|5. Matt Allare (OSU) def. Christian Hansen (UT)||7-6, 7-5|
|6. Matt Brewer (UT) def. No. 77 Shuhei Uzawa (OSU)||6-3, 6-4|
|Order of Finish: 3,1,6,2,5,4*|
|1. Kronauge/Moneke (OSU) def. Sandgren/Smith (UT)||8-4|
|2. No. 21 Conkic/Fago (UT) led Koniecko/Uzawa (OSU)||6-5|
|3. Allare/Novak (OSU) def. Brewer/Hansen (UT)||8-3|
|Order of Finish: 3,1|