March 29, 2009
The fifth-ranked Tennessee men's tennis team took LSU's best shot Sunday afternoon but still emerged victorious stopping LSU's upset bid 4-3 at W.T. "Dub" Robinson Stadium in Baton Rouge. Tennessee (16-3, 5-1 SEC) remains tied with third-ranked Georgia for first in the SEC Eastern Division.
"It was a great weekend of SEC tennis," head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "It's the best conference in the country and every match is going to come down to the wire. As a team we seem to be tough enough to come through in these close matches. (Associate head coach) Chris (Woodruff) and I couldn't be more proud of the guys and how they performed today."
With the match tied at three, freshman Christian Hansen clinched the victory for UT with a come-from-behind three-set victory on court six. Hansen dropped the first set to Mark Bowtell but won the second and third sets handily to win the match, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.
One of two freshmen on UT's roster, Hansen has proven that he can be counted on to pull out a clutch victory. This marks the fifth time this season that the Germany native has clinched a UT victory and the second time he has won a match for the Vols when the match was tied at three. Earlier this season, Hansen battled back from a one-set deficit to win at the No. 5 position over Louisville. That win clinched UT's 4-3 victory over the now-19th-ranked Cardinals.
"He's been in a position where he's needed to come through and he has," Winterbotham said. "You have to give Christian a tremendous amount of credit, he's just tough. He does a great job of playing his game throughout the match and especially in close matches. Those are the guys that win 4-3 matches because they stay committed to how they normally play and Christian does that very well."
The Vols jumped out to a 1-0 lead behind victories at the No. 1 and 3 doubles positions. UT's eighth-ranked duo of Davey Sandgren and John-Patrick Smith defeated 12th-ranked Neal Skupski and Michael Venus, 8-6 at the top-position. UT clinched the point when Matt Brewer and Bryan Swartz defeated James Cluskey and Jonathan Tragardh 9-7 on court three. Brewer and Swartz are now 3-0 this season at the No. 3 position in the lineup.
LSU (6-8, 1-5 SEC) rebounded from the doubles setback to grab a 2-1 lead early in singles.
Skupski knocked off Sandgren at the No. 4 position and Julien Gauthier defeated Brewer at No. 5 to give LSU its lone lead of the day.
Conkic defeated Cluskey, 6-3, 7-5 at the No. 2 position to tie the match. The Serbia native is 13-2 this season in dual-match play and 4-1 in the SEC.
Fago regained the lead for Tennessee with a straight-set victory over Sebastian Carlsson on court three. It's getting to the point now where one can almost give UT a point when the Italy native is on the court. Fago is now 16-0 this season in dual-match play, including a 6-0 mark in conference. For his career, Fago is 17-0 in SEC regular season dual-matches.
LSU would make one final push as its top-netter, ninth-ranked Venus was able to upset the Vols' seventh-ranked Smith in three-sets to tie the match. Smith won the first set but lost the second set and then with the set on serve late in the third gave up a break to fall, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. Smith is now 11-4 this season in dual-match play with all matches coming from the No. 1 spot in the lineup.
The Vols play their final two home matches of the regular season next weekend. The Big Orange face Alabama on Friday and host Auburn on Sunday. All home matches are free to the public. Live scoring for those that cannot attend can be found at UTsports.com.
|No. 5 Tennessee 4, No. 31 LSU 3|
|1. No. 9 Michael Venus (LSU) def. No. 7 John-Patrick Smith (UT)||4-6, 6-1, 6-4|
|2. No. 25 Boris Conkic (UT) def. James Cluskey (LSU)||6-3, 7-5|
|3. Matteo Fago (UT) def. Sebastian Carlsson (LSU)||6-1, 6-4|
|4. Neal Skupski (LSU) def. Davey Sandgren (UT)||6-0, 6-0|
|5. Julien Gauthier (LSU) def. Matt Brewer (UT)||7-6, 6-2|
|6. Christian Hansen (UT) def. Mark Bowtell (LSU)||3-6, 6-2, 6-1*|
|Order of Finish: 4,5,2,3,1,6|
|1. No. 8 Sandgren/Smith (UT) def. No. 12 Skupski/Venus (LSU)||8-6|
|2. Carlsson/Gauthier (LSU) def. Conkic/Fago (UT)||8-5|
|3. Brewer/Swartz (UT) def. Cluskey/Tragardh (LSU)||9-7|
|Order of Finish: 1,3,2|