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Smith, Tennessee's Doubles Tandem Advance in NCAA Singles/Doubles Championship
John-Patrick Smith

John-Patrick Smith

May 21, 2009


College Station, Texas - A separation between contenders and pretenders was on display at the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championship as University of Tennessee sophomore John-Patrick Smith battled back to win his second round match, while he and doubles partner Davey Sandgren sailed into the round of 16 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center on the campus of Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.

Smith, the tournament's No. 6 seed, extended his career-best overall winning streak to nine with a come-from-behind 6-3, 7-6(5), victory over North Carolina's Clay Donato, ranked 32nd. With the win, Smith (36-10) gains All-America honors for the second straight year and improves to 7-1 all-time in NCAA tournament action after reaching the finals of year's championship.

In the decisive second set that saw both players hold serve through the first five games, Donato broke Smith to go up 4-2 and held during the next game to lead 5-2. That is when the competitive fire in Smith took over as he held serve three times over the final five games, including breaking Donato in the ninth game, to force the tiebreaker.

Donato came out strong in the tiebreaker, taking leads of 3-0 and 4-1 before Smith reeled off four consecutive winners to take a 5-4 lead. Donato would tie it one last time at five before Smith served out for the 7-5 tiebreak and match victory.

"I played real well in the first set," said Smith. "I lost a service game in the second set, he got me down 5-2 and I had to battle back through it and I did. I was down 4-1 in the breaker as well and had to battle through it again. It was a long day and I'm glad I could finish in two (sets). Yesterday, I was seeing the ball a bit bigger than I was today. I was fresh yesterday compared to today. We played during the hottest part of the day, so that was pretty hard as well."

After Smith jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first set, Donato broke serve and held to tie the match at 3-3. Smith then held and broke Donato to take a 5-3 lead before serving out for the first set.

Smith faces another tough test in Virginia's Sanam Singh, ranked No. 26, in the round of 16 Friday. Singh defeated Texas' No. 19 Dimitar Kutrovsky, 6-2, 6-0. The winner of the Smith-Singh match faces the winner of No. 1-seed Arnau Brugues of Tulsa and Pepperdine's 44th-ranked Omar Altmann in the quarterfinals Saturday.

After two rounds of play only eight seeded players remain alive, including four of the top six.

Playing on the same court in which Smith won his singles match, he and Sandgren, Tennessee's No. 2-seeded doubles team hit the court for their first action in a 6-4, 6-2, win over 18th-ranked David Galic and Jordan Rux of Baylor.

UT's duo (29-11) got off to a good start by breaking Baylor's serve in the opening game. Both held serve the remainder of the way as the Vols took the first set. In the second set with the score tied 2-2, UT broke Baylor twice in games five and seven en route to the match win.

"It's really tough to play back-to-back singles and doubles," said Smith. "It's the last tournament of the year, so you just have to give it everything. I owe it to my doubles partner to compete, even if I'm still in singles. We played solid throughout the whole match and I was really happy with how we played."

Tennessee faces Boise State's 43rd-ranked duo of Kean Feeder and James Meredith who downed Alabama's Daniel Buikema and Mathieu Thibaudeau, ranked 23rd, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, in Friday's round of 16.

Live results can be found at www.utsports.com.

NCAA Singles/Doubles Championships Results/Schedule
Thursday, May 21
Singles (seeds listed in parenthesis)
(6) John-Patrick Smith, Tennessee def. Clay Donato, North Carolina - 6-3, 7-6 (5)

Doubles (seeds listed in parenthesis)
(2) John-Patrick Smith/Davey Sandgren, Tennessee def. David Galic/Jordan Rux, Baylor - 6-4, 6-2

Friday, May 22
Singles (seeds listed in parenthesis)
(6) John-Patrick Smith, Tennessee vs. Sanam Singh, Virginia

Doubles (seeds listed in parenthesis)
(2) John-Patrick Smith/Davey Sandgren, Tennessee vs. Kean Feeder/James Meredith, Boise State

 

 

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