Feb. 28, 2010
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Experience brought the second-ranked Tennessee Volunteers back from the brink of defeat Sunday.
"In 4-3 matches, you learn a lot about your team," Tennessee coach Sam Winterbotham said. "I think today was no exception. We learned a great deal about the saying, `It's not over until it's over.'
Even though the Vols (11-1) had taken a 1-0 lead following doubles, Wake Forest (6-2) came out strong to begin singles, taking four of the five first sets. The Demon Deacons earned straight-set wins at Nos. 2, 3 and 4 to go ahead 3-1, just one point away from clinching the upset.
That's when the tides turned.
Brewer dropped his first set 2-6 to Zach Leslie but dug in and evened the match with a 6-3 win in the second set. Brewer took the third set 6-3 to win the match, and Tennessee trailed 3-2.
Smith, ranked second, was taken to a third set but defeated No. 73 Tripper Carleton 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 to tie the score 3-3. He has a 25-5 record and has defeated 15 ranked opponents this season.
Everything came down to Fago at the sixth position. Because Leighton Stadium has only five courts, his match with Danny Kreyman did not begin until there was an open court. Knowing his match would be necessary for the Vols, Fago showed no signs of hesitation. He quickly downed Kreyman 6-2, 6-2 to clinch the match for the Vols. It was his 20th victory of the season, already a career best.
"I think the way Matteo, J.P. and Matt handled their matches, there was a certain characteristic that we as coaches are very proud of," Winterbotham said. "Their ability to stay focused on not let things bother them, that really made the difference in the match today. We came away with a win because of that."
Smith, Fago and Brewer have a combined 206 victories, with Smith accounting for 94 of them.
The Vols opened the match by capturing the doubles point, something they've done in all 12 matches this season.
Third-ranked Smith and senior Davey Sandgren picked up their second win over Wake Forest's top team this year, defeating Iain Atkinson and Steve Forman 8-5 at the No. 1. A few minutes later, junior Boris Conkic and freshman Rhyne Williams gave Tennessee the lead with an 8-3 victory over David Hopkins and Carlos Salmon.
Sandgren and Smith have won 11 matches in a row and improved to 22-3. Conkic and Williams have won nine consecutive with an 18-2 record.
Conkic snapped his team-leading 12-match winning streak, losing 6-1, 6-4 to Steve Forman. Williams' 8-match streak ended in a 6-3, 6-3 loss to Jonathan Wolff.
#2 John-Patrick Smith, UT, def. #73 Tripper Carleton, WF, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3
2. Steve Forman, WF, def. #21 Boris Conkic, UT, 6-1, 6-4
3. Jonathan Wolff, WF, def. #30 Rhyne Williams, UT, 6-3, 6-3
4. #117 Iain Atkinson, WF, def. Tennys Sandgren, UT, 6-4, 6-0
5. #86 Matt Brewer, UT, def. Zach Leslie, WF, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3
6. Matteo Fago, UT, def. Danny Kreyman, WF, 6-2, 6-2
1. #3 D. Sandgren/Smith, UT, def. #12 Atkinson/Forman, WF, 8-5
2. #6 Conkic/Williams, UT, def. Hopkins/Salmon, WF, 8-3
Carleton/Wolff, WF, def. Jones/T. Sandgren, UT, 8-5
Order of Finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (2,4,3,5,1,6).