March 27, 2009
It did not play out exactly the way head coach Sam Winterbotham would have drawn it up, but in the end his fifth-ranked Volunteer tennis team did enough to pull away from a very determined Arkansas squad 6-1 on a rainy Friday afternoon at the Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center.
"Winning is a precious commodity and you should never take it for granted," Winterbotham said. "We let Arkansas get a look at victory this afternoon. To their credit they fought and played extremely well. If we had not turned it on in the second half of the match, the final score would have been a lot closer. Wins are hard to come by in this conference and I'm happy to have this one under our belt."
The Vols jumped out to a 1-0 lead behind victories at the No. 1 and 3 doubles positions. Matt Brewer and Bryan Swartz spotted Arkansas's Tyler Tarnasky and Bradwin Williams a 2-0 lead before roaring back to win the next eight games to win on court 3, 8-2. The Big Orange clinched the point when Davey Sandgren and John-Patrick Smith defeated Chris Nott and Blake Strode, 8-5 on court No. 1.
Tennessee (15-3, 4-1 SEC) has won the doubles point in six of its last seven matches and is now 11-0 this season when they take a 1-0 lead into singles.
Smith gave UT a 2-0 lead with a straight-set win over Strode at the No. 1 position. Smith was able to keep Strode off balance the whole match, using breaks early in each set to defeat the 17th-ranked Razorback netter, 6-3, 6-3. The UT sophomore has won his last six matches, five of which were over players ranked 50th or better in the singles poll.
Arkansas (9-8, 1-4 SEC) scored its lone point of the day when Lebedev outlasted Sandgren in three-sets at the No. 4 position.
At this point in the match all the momentum was in Arkansas's favor. The Razorbacks had just forced third sets on courts two and three and with play just beginning at positions five and six, the outcome of the match was far from determined.
Boris Conkic helped stem the tide with a three-set victory on court 2. The UT sophomore won the first set but struggled in the second in his match against Nott. The Serbia native rebounded in the third set to defeat Nott, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Conkic is now 11-2 this season at the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
Matteo Fago clinched the match for UT with a hard-earned three-set victory at the No. 3 position over Hogan. Fago did not resemble himself at all through most of the match as the Italy native who was 14-0 in dual-match play coming into the match found himself down 4-1 in the third set and on the verge of his first defeat in 2009. But Fago battled back and after breaking Hogan's serve to draw within 5-4, dominated the remainder of play to win the match and preserve his undefeated record, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.
Brewer put the finishing touches on a dominating day for the junior as he defeated Tarnasky, 6-2, 6-1 at the No. 5 position. The Knoxville native began the season hoping to carve himself a spot in UT's singles lineup that had five returnees from last season and he has done just that becoming a regular in UT's lineup and now has a 4-1 mark in conference play.
Freshman Christian Hansen won his third consecutive match defeating Nikolas Zogaj, 6-1, 6-3 at No. 6 to cap a UT victory.
The Vols return to the road for their next match. UT faces LSU Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. in Baton Rouge. A link to live scoring for the match can be found at UTsports.com.
|No. 5 Tennessee 6, No. 46 Arkansas 1|
|1. No. 7 John-Patrick Smith (UT) def. No. 17 Blake Strode (Ark)||6-3, 6-3|
|2. No. 25 Boris Conkic (UT) def. Chris Nott (Ark)||6-4, 3-6, 6-3|
|3. Matteo Fago (UT) def. Matthew Hogan (Ark)||6-4, 1-6, 7-5*|
|4. Dmitry Lebedev (Ark) def. Davey Sandgren (UT)||6-0, 2-6, 6-4|
|5. Matt Brewer (UT) def. Tyler Tarnasky (Ark)||6-2, 6-1|
|6. Christian Hansen (UT) def. Nikolas Zogaj (Ark)||6-1, 6-3|
|Order of Finish: 1,4,2,3,5,6|
|1. No. 8 Sandgren/Smith (UT) def. Nott/Strode (Ark)||8-5|
|2. Conkic/Fago (UT) led Hogan/Lebedev (Ark)||5-4|
|3. Brewer/Swartz (UT) def. Tarnasky/Williams (Ark)||8-2|
|Order of Finish: 3,1|