April 23, 2011
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Aside from winning the doubles point and Rhyne Williams' performance on court 2, not much went right for the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday.
The second-ranked Vols' hopes of consecutive SEC Championships titles practically ended once singles play began, falling 4-2 to host Florida in the semifinals at the Ring Tennis Complex.
Tennessee (21-4) won the doubles point easily enough with top-ranked seniors Boris Conkic and John-Patrick Smith defeating Alexandre Lacroix and Sekou Bangoura Jr. 8-2. Williams and fellow sophomore Tennys Sandgren clinched the point with an 8-5 victory over Billy Federhofer and Nassim Slilam.
The Vols had swept Florida 7-0 in Knoxville two weeks ago, but every singles matchup was different Saturday. When singles started, the pieces started falling quickly in Florida's favor as the Gators took four of six first sets with the home crowd at their backs.
"Florida came out in singles and they competed, and it was a real match," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "We're in Gainesville and the guys have the experience: we know what's coming. We knew how to handle it. We just didn't."
Florida tied the score at 1-1 when Spencer Newman defeated Edward Jones 6-4, 6-2 on court 6. The Gators added two more points when Bob van Overbeek beat Conkic 6-2, 6-4, and Smith had his five-match winning streak snapped by eighth-ranked Alexandre Lacroix on court 1 by a 6-4, 6-3 score.
From there, the Vols were facing a 3-1 deficit and needed to win the final three matches to win.
Williams made the score 3-2 with his 7-6 (3), 6-3 victory over Bangoura, leaving Sandgren and senior Matteo Fago as the last two Vols still playing.
Fago rallied to take the second set 6-3 against Federhofer, but was broken serving at 2-2 in the final set and could never recover. Federhofer won 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to clinch the match.
"Our guys didn't give themselves a chance. We lost four first sets. We've got to learn. For us to win a national championship -- which is our goal and what our team is capable of doing -- we have to be able to handle these situations."
1. #8 Alexandre Lacroix, UF, def. #11 John-Patrick Smith, UT, 6-4, 6-3
2. #3 Rhyne Williams, UT, def. #44 Sekou Bangoura Jr., UF, 7-6 (3), 6-3
3. #51 Tennys Sandgren, UT, vs. #93 Nassim Slilam, UF, 7-6 (8), 2-6, 1-3 DNF
4. Bob van Overbeek, UF, def. Boris Conkic, UT, 6-2, 6-4
5. Billy Federhofer, UF, def. #76 Matteo Fago, UT, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4
6. Spencer Newman, UF, def. Edward Jones, UT, 6-4, 6-2
1. #1 Conkic/Smith, UT, def. #29 Bangoura/Lacroix, UF, 8-2
2. #52 Sandgren/Williams, UT, def. Federhofer/Slilam, UF, 8-5
3. Butz/van Overbeek, UF, def. Fago/Jones, UT, 8-1
Order of Finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (6,4,1,2,5).