March 21, 2010
The Tennessee Volunteers had gone 19 seasons since they had last started Southeastern Conference play with five consecutive victories.
That streaked ended Sunday.
The second-ranked Vols recorded their eighth shutout of the year and second during the SEC season, defeating LSU 7-0 in their first home match played outdoors at UT Varsity Courts.
The Vols clinched the doubles point for the 17th time this season before coming out strong in singles competition, winning all six positions in straight sets in a match which lasted under three hours.
"We've talked about this as a team: there are no easy matches. Today wasn't an easy match," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "We did a great job in doubles jumping on them early and getting that advantage, the first point of the match.
"In singles, it was very competitive. We've got to continue to be brave, continue to be pushing. When you get the opportunity for a break, you have to take it. At the end, it looked like an easy match because of the way our guys stuck to it, but LSU fought hard in singles."
The last time the Vols (16-1) started conference with a 5-0 record was in 1990, a season in which UT finished 34-1 overall and won the SEC title with a 9-0 mark.
Senior Davey Sandgren and junior John-Patrick Smith, who rose to the No. 1 national ranking earlier in the week, opened the afternoon by winning their 26th match of the season. They defeated Roger Anderson and Neal Skupski 8-2 at No. 1 doubles.
Junior Boris Conkic and freshman Rhyne Williams followed not long after on court 2, also winning 8-2. Conkic and Williams, ranked fifth, have won 14 consecutive matches and improved their season record to 23-2. Junior Matteo Fago and freshman Edward Jones picked up an 8-4 win on court 3.
In singles, Smith was the first to finish for the second consecutive match. He defeated No. 48 Neal Skupski 6-1, 6-3 to earn his 98th career win as a Vol and put UT ahead 2-0. He returned to No. 2 nationally this week and improved his season record to 29-5, just seven wins shy of his 2009 total.
Williams finished not long after with a 6-3, 6-1 win at No. 3 against Sebastian Carlsson. Senior Matt Brewer clinched the win for the Vols by rallying back to win the first set 6-4 against Julien Gautheir on court 5 and winning the second set 6-3.
The skies had threatened bad weather all afternoon, and light rain started falling once the Vols took the 4-0 lead. Conkic quickly wrapped things up, serving for a 6-3, 6-3 win against Sebastian Carlsson at No. 2. James Turbervill double faulted to end the match on court 6 a few minutes later, giving Fago a 6-2, 6-3 win. Fago has won all 10 matches at the sixth position and improved to 25-7 overall.
Oddly enough, the final point was played inside Goodfriend Tennis Center. Freshman Tennys Sandgren was serving on match point up 6-5 in the second set when the umpire suspended play when it started raining steadily. After a several minute delay while players, fans and staff moved indoors, Sandgren sent everyone home with a winner on his first serve, defeating Mark Bowtell 6-2, 7-5 at the No. 4 position.
LSU dropped to 5-8 overall and 2-3 in the SEC.
The Vols play their final non-conference match of the regular season Friday, hosting No. 12 Louisville at 1 p.m. at Varsity Courts. A live, interactive blog as well as live scoring will be available on UTSports.com.
1. #2 John-Patrick Smith (UT) def. #46 Neal Skupski (LSU) 6-1, 6-3
2. #32 Boris Conkic (UT) def. Sebastian Carlsson (LSU) 6-3, 6-3
3. #44 Rhyne Williams (UT) def. Stefan Szacinski (LSU) 6-3, 6-1
4. Tennys Sandgren (UT) def. Mark Bowtell (LSU) 6-2, 7-5
5. #95 Matt Brewer (UT) def. Julien Gauthier (LSU) 6-4, 6-3
6. Matteo Fago (UT) def. James Turbervill (LSU) 6-2, 6-3
1. #1 John-Patrick Smith/Davey Sandgren (UT) def. Roger Anderson/Neal Skupski (LSU) 8-2
2. #5 Boris Conkic/Rhyne Williams (UT) def. Sebastian Carlsson/Mark Bowtell (LSU) 8-2
3. Matteo Fago/Edward Jones (UT) def. Olivier Borsos/Stefan Szacinski (LSU) 8-4
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (1,3,5,2,6,4)