April 3, 2011
OXFORD, Miss. -- Coming off a loss at Mississippi State, the Tennessee coaches wanted to see how badly the Vols wanted to have a great year.
On Sunday, they got their answer: the team came ready to play.
The fourth-ranked Vols took command in doubles and the top half of the lineup delivered again in a 4-3 victory over 25th-ranked Mississippi inside the Gillom Sports Center, good for Tennessee's first win in Oxford in a decade.
After sophomores Rhyne Williams and Tennys Sandgren were off the court with singles wins, senior John-Patrick Smith clinched the team victory at 4-0 with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 victory over Marcel Thiemann on court 1.
Tennessee (17-3, 7-1 SEC) had their 17-match SEC winning streak snapped on Friday with a 6-1 loss at Mississippi State. The Vols regrouped and kept back-to-back title hopes alive with their performance Sunday, starting with an impressive performance in doubles.
Smith and senior Boris Conkic got the Vols started at the top of the lineup in decisive manner. The Vols' No. 1-ranked duo shut out eighth-ranked twins Chris and Marcel Thiemann 8-0 at the top of the lineup. Sandgren and Williams followed with an 8-5 win over Jonas Lutjen and Johan Backstrom to secure the doubles point, something the Vols lacked in Friday's loss to Mississippi State.
"Everyone came ready to play and doubles was fantastic," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "It set the tone for the day. We took their crowd completely out of it. They didn't stop from there. From the first moment to the last, they played like a great team."
Although the skies were clear in Oxford, the match was played indoors because of strong, gusting winds in excess of 20 miles per hour. Only three indoor courts were available, so the top three Vols were called on first.
Williams started off with a fast 6-4, 6-0 victory over Tucker Vorster at the No. 2 position, but Smith and Sandgren both went three sets on courts 1 and 3.
Sandgren lost his first set in 12 matches, dropping the opening frame in a tiebreaker 7-5, but he ran his winning streak to a career-best 16 matches by winning the next to sets to beat Lutjen 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-3. The sophomore from Gallatin improved to 18-0 in his career in the SEC.
Smith took command quickly against Marcel Thiemann to take the first set 6-2, but he was broken in the second set at 5-5 when he had a third call overruled by the chair umpire and was assessed a point penalty. He recovered in the third set to clinch the victory for Tennessee, the Vols' first at Mississippi since 2001.
Shortly after the match was decided, senior Matteo Fago lost in a third-set 10-point tiebreaker to Chris Thiemann. Because of the shortage of courts indoors, Conkic and sophomore Edward Jones started their matches after Smith and Sandgren finished and retired just a few games into the first sets. Both received losses to make the final score 4-3.
The Vols return home for their final homestand of the regular season when they host South Carolina on Friday and Florida on Sunday.
Tennessee 4, Mississippi 3
1. #12 John-Patrick Smith (UT) def. #40 Marcel Thiemann (OM) 6-2, 5-7, 6-1
2. #4 Rhyne Williams (UT) def. Tucker Vorster (OM) 6-4, 6-0
3. #48 Tennys Sandgren (UT) def. Jonas Lutjen (OM) 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3
4. Chris Thiemann (OM) def. #58 Matteo Fago (UT) 6-3, 6-7(5), 1-0(6)
5. Johan Backstrom (OM) def. #121 Boris Conkic (UT) 4-4, ret.
6. Adrian Forberg Skogeng (OM) vs. Ed Jones (UT) 5-2, ret.
1. #1 Conkic-Smith (UT) def. #8 Thiemann-Thiemann (OM) 8-0
2. #61 Williams-Sandgren (UT) def. Lutjen-Backstrom (OM) 8-5
3. Vorster-Skogeng (OM) vs. Jones-Fago (UT) 7-6, sus.
Order of Finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (2,3,1,4,5,6)