Feb. 27, 2011
The Tennessee Volunteers delayed their first outdoor match for another afternoon, but they were able to get back in the win column Sunday on indoor courts.
Rain forced the contest inside Goodfriend Tennis Center where the second-ranked Vols jumped out to an early lead on their way to a 6-1 victory against 35th-ranked Wake Forest.
Four Vols won in straight sets, and top-ranked sophomore Rhyne Williams snapped a two-match losing streak by clinching the team win with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Danny Kreyman on court 2.
Coming off their first loss of the season to Virginia in the finals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships on Monday, the Vols (10-1) had been practicing outside in preparation for the opening match at Barksdale Stadium. The Wake Forest coaches were hoping for the same, but the forecast had other plans.
"Tennis is an outdoor sport and we're a great outdoor team," Tennessee coach Sam Winterbotham said. "The sooner we can get out there, the better. I think our guys naturally play better outdoors. I keep going down the line and I can't think of a single player who's better indoors."
Weather permitting, The Vols will play their first outdoor match this weekend to start Southeastern Conference play.
The Vols begin their SEC title defense by hosting Alabama on Friday at 2 p.m. Last season, Tennessee swept through SEC play undefeated at 11-0 but play an additional road match this season.
While the Vols rallied from the brink to avoid upset on the road against Wake Forest 4-3 last season, Sunday was a different story as Tennessee took the doubles point and won five of six first sets.
Sophomore Edward Jones led the way with a fast 6-3, 6-2 victory over Adam Lee, good for his third consecutive win playing up on court 5. Sophomore Tennys Sandgren, who missed most of National Indoors with an illness, was back on court 3, where he gave the Vols a 3-0 lead by defeating 67th-ranked Jonathan Wolff 6-3, 6-0.
A few minutes later, Williams' clinched the Vols' 28th consecutive home win.
Like at National Indoors, the Vols played with a short-handed lineup. Senior Matteo Fago was scratched from singles play shortly after teaming up with Jones to polish off an 8-5 victory over Lee and Zach Leslie to clinch the doubles point. Winterbotham said Fago had suffered a neck injury during the match.
"Matteo's as tough as anyone," Winterbotham said. "When he tells me something's wrong, something's wrong. He's never pulled out of anything. He's arguably our toughest guy."
After the match was clinched, senior Boris Conkic tied his personal best with his 12th-consecutive win, beating Iain Atkinson 6-3, 6-0 on court 4. After a slow start, senior John-Patrick Smith got rolling in the second set, eventually earning a 2-6, 6-0, 1-0 (4) victory over Tripper Carleton. It was Smith's second time playing at the top of UT's singles lineup this season.
Sophomore Taylor Patrick was a late addition to the singles lineup in place of Fago. He won an extremely long first set 7-6, finally heading back to the bench with the set in hand after the Vols had already clinched the match at 4-0. Patrick battled a hip injury throughout second set and eventually lost in a close 10-point tiebreaker to Leslie 7-6, 1-6, 1-0 (8).
"Taylor gave phenomenal effort," Winterbotham said. "He got thrust in there two minutes before singles started and he played great. It was the best we'd ever seen him play. Talk about a guy stepping up. It was fantastic."
In doubles, the Vols got back to winning ways after dropping the doubles point for the first time in 22 matches in the loss to Virginia. Smith and Conkic won their ninth consecutive at the top of the lineup, beating Carleton and Atkinson 8-2 to improve to 13-1. Fago and Jones gave the Vols a 1-0 lead with their win on court 3.
Tennessee 6, Wake Forest 1
1. #17 John-Patrick Smith (UT) def. #123 Tripper Carleton (WF) 2-6, 6-0, 1-0 (10-4)
2. #1 Rhyne Williams (UT) def. Danny Kreyman (WF) 6-3, 6-4
3. #46 Tennys Sandgren (UT) def. #67 Jonathan Wolff (WF) 6-3, 6-0
4. #119 Boris Conkic (UT) def. Iain Atkinson (WF) 6-3, 6-4
5. Edward Jones (UT) def. Adam Lee (WF) 6-3, 6-2
6. Zach Leslie (WF) def. Taylor Patrick (UT) 5-7, 6-1, 1-0 (8)
1. Boris Conkic/John-Patrick Smith (UT) def. Tripper Carleton/Iain Atkinson (WF) 8-2
2. Tennys Sandgren/Rhyne Williams (UT) def. Danny Kreyman/Jonathan Wolff (WF) 8-7 (9-7)
3. Matteo Fago/Edward Jones (UT) def. Adam Lee/Zach Leslie (WF) 8-5
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (5,3,2,4,1,6)