Feb. 15, 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The Tennessee Volunteers took the doubles point in lightning-quick fashion Monday but could not translate that to singles success in the finals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship.
The Vols forced three singles matches to three sets but fell 4-1 to three-time defending champion Virginia at the Boar's Head Sports Club.
"I thought we played great doubles against Virginia, but we just couldn't carry the momentum into singles," junior Boris Conkic said. "We lost a lot of first sets, and that really hurt us.
"We couldn't really come back, but I trust this team. I know we'll be back, and we'll play better next time in these kinds of situations."
Senior Davey Sandgren and junior John-Patrick Smith delivered their most lopsided victory of the tournament. The seventh-ranked Tennessee duo defeated Michael Shabaz and Drew Courtney 8-1 to earn their 11th consecutive victory and 21st of the season.
Conkic and freshman Rhyne Williams clinched the point with an equally fast 8-2 win at No. 2 over Jarmere Jenkins and Houston Barrick, and Tennessee (10-1) took a 1-0 lead.
The tide turned almost as soon as the teams returned for singles. Virginia jumped out to an early lead on almost every court.
Conkic briefly led 4-1 in the first set at No. 2 against Sanam Singh, but he and four other Vols lost their first set, giving Virginia the momentum, especially with the home crowd backing them.
Williams was the only Vol to win his first set, taking a 7-5 lead over 16th-ranked Jenkins on court three.
"We had a small window of opportunity in singles to really take the crowd out of the match, and we did not seize that opportunity," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "We really needed to play well to do that, and to Virginia's credit, they played like their backs were against the wall. They knew the start would be critical to them.
Then Virginia, which has ranked players at all six positions, began to collect points. No. 58 Barrick defeated junior Matteo Fago 6-2, 6-4 on court five. Virginia went ahead 2-1 when Davey Sandgren, playing singles for the first time in the tournament, lost 6-2, 7-5 to No. 28 Lee Singer on court six.
Smith had defeated No. 3 Shabaz in straight sets during the fall, but Shabaz returned the favor Monday by winning 6-4, 6-4 at the No. 1 position. Virginia took a 3-1 lead with Shabaz' victory, and suddenly, the Vols were required to win the final three singles matches to comeback.
Conkic had lost the first set and trailed the second 3-0, but he rallied back to win the second set against Singh 7-5. Jenkins forced a third set with Williams on court 3 when the match ended on court 4.
No. 31 Courtney clinched the Virginia win with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over Tennys Sandgren.
"We needed to win more first sets," Winterbotham said. "After we did lose the first set, we just went down too quickly in the second sets on a couple of courts. That kills your chances to really give people like Boris time to turn the match around on their courts."
The Vols return to action Sunday when they travel to Winston-Salem, N.C., to face Wake Forest at 1 p.m.
1. #3 Michael Shabaz, UVa, def. #2 John-Patrick Smith, UT, 6-4, 6-4
2. #68 Boris Conkic, UT, vs. #12 Sanam Singh, UVa, 4-6, 7-5 0-0 DNF
3. #22 Rhyne Williams, UT, vs. #16 Jarmere Jenkins, UVa, 7-5, 4-6, 1-1 DNF
4. #31 Drew Courtney, UVa, def. Tennys Sandgren, UT, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
5. #58 Houston Barrick, UVa, def. Matteo Fago, UT, 6-2, 6-4
6. #28 Lee Singer, UVa, def. Davey Sandgren, UT, 6-2, 7-5
1. #7 D. Sandgren/Smith, UT, def. Courtney/Shabaz, UVa, 8-1
2. #12 Conkic/Williams, UT, def. Barrick/Jenkins, UVa, 8-2
3. Fago/T. Sandgren, UT, vs. Singh/Singer, UVa, 4-4 DNF
Order of Finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (5,6,1,4).