March 7, 2010
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The second-ranked Tennessee Volunteers wrapped their first Southeastern Conference weekend on the road with their second victory Sunday.
The Vols took the doubles point and kept the momentum going in a 4-1 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide at the University of Alabama Tennis Center.
"Anytime you can go on the road and get two road victories in the SEC, it's been a good weekend," said head coach Sam Winterbotham, who has won all five meetings with Alabama while at Tennessee. "I thought throughout the team, guys had the right focus and the right energy that we need to be successful in this league."
Tennessee (13-1, 2-0 SEC) won doubles behind victories at the first and second positions. The fifth-ranked team of junior Boris Conkic and freshman Rhyne Williams finished first for the Vols, earning their 11th consecutive victory in an 8-3 decision.
Senior Davey Sandgren and junior John-Patrick Smith, ranked second nationally, clinched the point for Tennessee by picking up a late break on their way to defeating Saketh Myneni and Michael Davis 9-7. Sandgren served out the victory to become the third Volunteer in history to record 100 doubles wins.
In singles, Williams wrapped things up first with a 6-2, 6-4 victory against Jarryd Botha at the No. 3 position. Just a few minutes later, Conkic became the fourth Vol to reach 20 singles wins this season when he defeated Ricky Doverspike 7-6, 6-3 at the No. 2 position to put Tennessee ahead 3-0.
Junior Matteo Fago ended the match with a 6-4, 6-3 win against Michael Davis at the No. 6 position.
"The guys are seeing the importance of momentum swings throughout the early part of the season and heading into the SEC Tournament, and it's boding well for now," Winterbotham said. "I really felt that we're really starting to seize on momentum. We're starting to dig deep and try to change momentum when it's not going our way.
"Pretty simple things in theory, but you must have the confidence to do it in a match. It says a lot for the guys and how much they're progressing."
Alabama's lone point came on court five when Houssam Yassine defeated senior Matt Brewer in straight sets. Smith had lost his first set, but he had turned the corner in his match at the No. 1 position, leading 5-1 in the second set when the match ended. Freshman Tennys Sandgren led 2-1 in the third set at No. 4.
The start to 2010 is certainly improved over the 2009 beginning for the Vols. Last season, they opened conference play with a two-match loop through Mississippi and returned to Knoxville with a 1-1 record after losing to Ole Miss and just edging past Mississippi State.
Winterbotham said the 2-0 start to this season can be chalked up to maturity of the Tennessee squad.
"That's what college does -- it puts them in these situations with different pressures that they really haven't faced before," Winterbotham said. "You realize you really do have to dig deep and focus on each point."
The Vols return to Knoxville and host Vanderbilt on Friday and Kentucky on Sunday. Both matches begin at 1 p.m.
1. #4 John-Patrick Smith, UT, vs. #38 Saketh Myneni, UA, 6-4, 1-5, DNF
2. Boris Conkic, UT, def. Ricky Doverspike, UA, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3
3. #51 Rhyne Williams, UT, def. Jarryd Botha, UA, 6-2, 6-4
4. Tennys Sandgren, UT vs. Michael Thompson, UA, 1-6, 6-0, 1-2, DNF
5. Houssam Yassine, UA, def. #88 Matt Brewer, UT, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2
6. Matteo Fago, UT, def. Michael Davis, UA, 6-4, 6-3
1. #2 John-Patrick Smith/Davey Sandgren, UT, def. Saketh Myneni/Michael Davis, UA, 9-7
2. #5 Boris Conkic/Rhyne Williams, UT, def. Ricky Doverspike/Jarryd Botha, UA, 8-3
3. Edward Jones/Matteo Fago, UT, vs. Trey Walston/Houssam Yassine, UA, 4-7, DNF
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1); Singles (3,2,5,6)