April 2, 2010
In his first appearance in the singles lineup in more than a month, Tennessee senior Davey Sandgren came prepared to play Friday.
Sandgren helped clinch the doubles point and was first off the court with a victory in singles as the third-ranked Vols shut out 16th-ranked Mississippi 7-0 at UT Varsity Courts.
With the shut out, the Vols (19-1, 7-0 SEC) tied the 1965 team record for shutouts in a season with 10. Tennessee had earlier tied the record for consecutive shutouts by starting the season by shutting out five opponents in a row.
Among other things, head coach Sam Winterbotham said Friday's victory certainly proved the value of a deep lineup.
The Vols earned a key victory in doubles from the No. 3 team of junior Matteo Fago and freshman Edward Jones as Tennessee won the doubles point for the 20th time this season. In singles, Sandgren entered the lineup in the place of fellow senior Matt Brewer, who had injured his ankle Sunday against Arkansas.
Sandgren, a mainstay at the Vols' No. 1 doubles position the last two seasons, had not played an official singles match since Feb. 15 against Virginia in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship, although he had played two exhibitions against Wake Forest and Louisville since then.
No matter the layoff between "real" matches, Sandgren sped through his match at the No. 6 position Friday. He got early breaks in both sets and defeated Jaime Vazquez 6-3, 6-1 to give the Vols a 2-0 lead over Mississippi.
Sandgren logged his 79th career win with the victory over Vazquez, putting him in a tie for 16th on the UT career wins list with John Gibson (1988-91). Friday also marked the 150th singles match of Sandgren's career, a number few UT players ever reach.
"Davey has sacrificed so much," Winterbotham said. "He wants to win a national championship. He wants to win an SEC Championship. And he's leading the charge to try and do those things.
"This is a guy who's improving and playing great. He's a top doubles player in the country, he's an All-American, he's doing all the right things, and then, he's sitting on the bench. For a guy of that caliber to handle that the way he's done, just shows the great character he has. When he stepped in, he saw his opportunity and played great."
Fago was the second to finish for the Vols, getting a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Harry Fowler at No. 5. With Sandgren and teammates leading the chant of "It's Great to Be a Tennessee Vol," junior John-Patrick Smith secured the UT victory at the No. 1 spot by defeating No. 68 Marcel Thiemann 6-4, 6-1.
Smith, ranked second in the country, improved to 32-5 on the season, with 22 of those wins coming against ranked opponents.
Once the match had been clinched, Mississippi's Chris Thiemann retired at the No. 4 position against freshman Tennys Sandgren. Freshman Rhyne Williams won a lengthy tiebreaker to defeat Jonas Lutjen 6-1, 7-6 (10-8) at the No. 3 position to put the Vols ahead 6-0.
Junior Boris Conkic won the first set of his match in a 7-4 tiebreaker against No. 75 Tucker Vorster. The second set was tied 3-3 when Vorster retired to end the match.
The Vols had not defeated Mississippi (13-4, 4-3) since a 4-2 semifinal upset in the 2005 SEC Tournament. The last time the Vols had earned a win against the Rebels in the regular season was a 5-2 victory in Oxford, Miss., in 2001.
In doubles, Fago and Jones picked up an early break on court 3 and held off a late rally to win 8-6. A few minutes later, Smith and Davey Sandgren, ranked second nationally, picked up their team-leading 29th victory of the season, defeating Vorster and Lutjen 8-6 on court 1 to clinch the doubles point for the Vols.
The winning streak came to an end for Conkic and Williams on court 2. They had won 16 consecutive matches but lost on a break at the end to fall 8-6 to Marcel and Chris Thiemann. Conkic and Williams, ranked fourth nationally, dropped to 25-3 this season.
"The biggest thing about winning the doubles point today is that the team that has been winning every time for us lost," Winterbotham said. "So, we relied on our 1 and our 3. Our 3 came through for us today."
Tennessee returns to conference action against No. 47 Mississippi State at 1 p.m. Admission is free. A live, interactive blog in addition to live scoring will be available at UTSports.com.
1. #2 John-Patrick Smith (UT) def. #68 Marcel Thiemann (OM), 6-4, 6-1
2. #26 Boris Conkic (UT) def. #75 Tucker Vorster (OM), 7-6 (7-4), 3-3, retired
3. #49 Rhyne Williams (UT) def. Jonas Lutjen (OM), 6-1, 7-6 (10-8)
4. #111 Tennys Sandgren (UT) def. Chris Thiemann (OM), 6-2, 3-2, retired
5. Matteo Fago (UT) def. Harry Fowler (OM), 6-4, 6-2
6. Davey Sandgren (UT) def. Jaime Vazquez (OM) 6-3, 6-1
1. #2 John-Patrick Smith/Davey Sandgren (UT) def. Tucker Vorster/Jonas Lutjen (OM) 8-6
2. Marcel Thiemann/Chris Thiemann (OM) def. #4 Boris Conkic/Rhyne Williams (UT) 8-6
3. Matteo Fago/Edward Jones (UT) def. Harry Fowler/Jaime Vazquez (OM) 8-6
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (6,5,1,4,3,2)