May 22, 2009
College Station, Texas - The University of Tennessee doubles team of John-Patrick Smith and Davey Sandgren lived up to their No.2 national seed as they won for the second straight day to advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Doubles Championships at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center on the campus of Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.
The news was not so good in the Singles Championship as Smith's run ended with a third-round upset loss to 26th-ranked Sanam Singh of Virginia. Singh defeated Smith, the No. 6 overall seed, 6-4, 7-5, to advance to Saturday's quarterfinals against No. 1-seed Arnau Brugues of Tulsa. Brugues defeated Pepperdine's Omar Altmann, 7-6, 6-3.
Smith, a two-time All-America, saw his career-best nine-match winning streak end as he finished the season with a 36-11 mark. His record is remarkable considering he played 35 of his 47 matches against ranked foes, including seven of his last 11 against top-20 players. In two seasons, he's amassed a 69-22 overall mark and a 40-20 record against ranked opponents, in addition to being a two-time All-Southeastern Conference first team selection.
"It was pretty slow. I was down a couple of breaks early," said Smith. "I had my chance to get back at 5-4 in the first set. I had two break points and I didn't convert. I was a bit unlucky today. I didn't really play as well as I had hoped to."
Dropping a set for the first time in 13 matches, Smith had to play from behind as Singh got off to a hot start, recording two service breaks to lead 4-1. Smith regrouped and broke serve on the next game to pull within 4-3, but both held for the remainder of the set as Singh took a 1-0 lead.
It took until the sixth game before anyone could gain an edge in the second set. That's when Smith was able to register the first service break and grab a 4-2 advantage. But it was short lived as Singh returned the favor the following game to make it 4-3.
Both held serve over the next three games as Singh was able to tie at 5-5. He took a 6-5 lead by breaking Smith for the fourth time on the afternoon. At triple match point, Smith mounted a rally and cut it to 40-30, but Singh unleashed a powerful service ace down the middle for the match clincher.
"Coming into this tournament, I was just going to take it match-by-match," said Singh. "I wouldn't be looking ahead at the draw and I found out yesterday that I would be playing him (Tennessee's John-Patrick Smith). Obviously, he's a great player. He's crafty and has really good hands. I felt like I played solid today. I just want to keep it going and play the same way that I did today throughout the tournament."
Smith and Sandgren, Tennessee's No. 2-seeded doubles team (30-11) ended the day on a positive note for the Volunteers as they advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 7-5, victory over Boise State's 43rd-ranked duo of Kean Feeder and James Meredith. With win, both garner All-America honors and face the seventh seed Steve Forman and Cory Parr of Wake Forest Saturday at 11 a.m. ET. The Demon Deacons duo defeated Oklahoma State's pair of Nathan Byrnes and Oleksandr Nedovyesov, 7-5, 6-3.
"We have a tough match tomorrow and if we can just start the way we finished today, we should be fine," said Smith. "We really picked it up towards the end. We made some good plays and executed well, so I think if we can keep doing that then we should be fine tomorrow."
Tennessee took advantage of the only two services breaks in the match to pull out the win. In the first set, both teams held serve through the first seven games before Tennessee broke serve to take a 5-3 lead. In the second, the Vols finally broke through in game 11 to grab a 6-5 lead.
Live results can be found at www.utsports.com.
NCAA Singles/Doubles Championships Results/Schedule
Friday, May 22
Singles (seeds listed in parenthesis)
Sanam Singh, Virginia def. (6) John-Patrick Smith, Tennessee - 6-4, 7-5
Doubles (seeds listed in parenthesis)
(2) John-Patrick Smith/Davey Sandgren, Tennessee def. Kean Feeder/James Meredith, Boise State - 6-3, 7-5
Saturday, May 23
Doubles (seeds listed in parenthesis)
(2) John-Patrick Smith/Davey Sandgren, Tennessee vs. (7) Steve Forman/Cory Parr, Wake Forest