March 20, 2009
Montgomery, Ala. --It was a day of the tiebreakers as the No. 6 Tennessee Volunteers survived a scare from the No. 33 Texas Tech Red Raiders at the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic to prevail 4-2 to advance to Saturday's semifinals against Southeastern Conference rival Auburn Tigers. Match time at the Lagoon Park Tennis Center is set for 2:30 p.m. ET with live results available at www.utsports.com.
Boise State faces Alabama in the other semifinal match. Finals are Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
"It was a very good team win. There was great effort across the board to close out the matches," said head coach Sam Winterbotham. "Tech did a good job of jumping on us in doubles, but winning the first set in five of the six singles matches was a positive momentum swing for us. Winning the tiebreakers showed how close this match really was, because it could have easily gone the other way.
"This is a great tournament. We'll have our hands full tomorrow with Auburn. There are a number of teams that are capable of being in the top 15, so the competition is tremendous."
The day got off to a slow start as the Vols dropped the doubles point 2-1. It came down to a tough match at the No. 1 spot with a top 15 matchup between Tennessee's No. 8 tandem of John-Patrick Smith and Davey Sandgren pitted against the No. 15 duo of Raony Carvalho and Christian Rojmar of Texas Tech. It went back and forth but the Red Raiders prevailed, 8-6, in the clinching match for the doubles point.
Tech grabbed early command in the doubles session as David Gonzalez and Gonzalo Escobar easily defeated Christopher Williams and Christian Hansen, 8-0, at No. 3. The Vols stormed back at the No. 2 slot with Boris Conkic and Matteo Fago defeating Texas Tech's Michael Breler and Sinisa Markovic, 8-4.
Tennessee then took control early in singles play, winning the first set in five of the six matches. The only blemish came at No. 6 where Hansen lost the tiebreaker to fall 7-6 to Milos Kustudija. Kustudija gave Texas Tech a 2-0 lead as he beat Hansen 6-1 in the second set.
Matt Brewer got the Vols on the board at No. 5 as he survived a tough first set against Breler, 7-5, before cruising 6-2 in the second.
Momentum began to swing Tennessee's way late in the match as Sandgren won his tiebreaker, 7-6, in the second set against Escobar to even the match at 2-2. Sandgren won the first set easily, 6-3.
Fago then won a grueling three-setter against Rojmar to give the Volunteers a 3-2 lead. Fago was dominant in the first set, winning 6-0, before Rojmar regrouped to win the second 6-4. Fago then settled down and won 6-4 in the third set.
And as is the case with most great teams, the Vols relied on their ace at No. 1 to clinch the match. After losing to No. 48 Carvalho in doubles, Smith knew he was in for a tough match. Carvalho didn't disappoint. The seventh-ranked Smith roared back to win his tiebreaker and take the first set 7-6. The two then battled it out in the second set, but Smith once again came out on top, 7-5, to put Tennessee in the semifinals.
"J.P pulled it out for us," said Winterbotham. "His opponent competed very well and played him tough, but J.P. was able to win his tiebreakers."
The No. 2 match between UT's Conkic, ranked No. 25 in the latest Campbell/ITA Tennis rankings, and Markovic was halted in the third set with Conkic holding a 6-4, 5-7, 2-1, advantage.
|No. 6 Tennessee 4, No. 33 Texas Tech 2|
|No. 15 Raony Carvalho/Christian Rojmar (TT) def. No. 8 John-Patrick Smith/Davey Sandgren (UT)||8-6|
|Boris Conkic/Matteo Fago (UT) def. Michael Breler/Sinisa Markovic (TT)||8-4|
|David Gonzalez/Gonzalo Escobar (TT) def. Christopher Williams/Christian Hansen (UT)||8-0|
|Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1|
|No. 7 John-Patrick Smith (UT) def. No. 48 Raony Carvalho (TT)||7-6, 7-5|
|No. 25 Boris Conkic (UT) led Sinisa Markovic (TT)||6-4, 5-7, 2-1|
|Matteo Fago (UT) def. Christian Rojmar (TT)||6-0, 4-6, 6-4|
|Davey Sandgren (UT) def. Gonzalo Escobar (TT)||6-3, 7-6|
|Matt Brewer (UT) def. Michael Breler (TT)||7-5, 6-2|
|Milos Kustudija (TT) def. Christian Hansen (UT)||7-6, 6-1|
|Order of Finish: 6, 5, 4, 3, 1|