May 23, 2009
College Station, Texas - In a classic quarterfinal match between top-10 teams, the University of Tennessee doubles tandem of John-Patrick Smith and Davey Sandgren won in three sets to advance to the semifinals of the NCAA Doubles Championships at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center on the campus of Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.
Tennessee (31-11), the No. 2-seeded doubles team and winners in 11 of its last 13 matches, posted a 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3, victory sixth ranked Steve Forman and Cory Parr of Wake Forest. The Wake Forest duo is the 12th consecutive ranked opponent the Volunteers have faced, including the seventh rated in the top 20.
"I thought we started really strong," said Sandgren. "We made a lot of balls. We served well and returned well. We were really on top of our game for the first set. In the second set, I thought we kept that up. We went up a break, I was serving for it and at match point he (Wake Forest's Steve Forman) hit a flying winner. It was just too good. They played really well into the second set. Then we got down a break in the third and we decided to pick it up. We did and just pulled through it. (NBA Cleveland Cavaliers star) LeBron James really inspired me last night."
This is the furthest a UT doubles team has advanced since former head coach Chris Mahony (2005-06) and Pablo Montana reached the semifinals in 1996. Rodney Harmon and Mel Purcell took home the only NCAA Doubles title in school history in 1980.
The 31 wins are the third most in a season by a Tennessee doubles team, while their 38 career victories rank sixth all-time in school history.
UT breezed through the first set, breaking Wake Forest in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead. Both sides held serve the remainder of the way as UT took the early advantage.
The second set played out with two service breaks apiece. With Tennessee serving for the match, Wake Forest forced the decisive break to tie the match 5-5. Both sides held serve over the final two games to force the tiebreaker. Once there, the Vols took a 3-2 lead only to see Wake Forest score the next three points and take the lead for good at 5-3 en route to the 7-4 tiebreak win to force a third set.
The third set was similar to the first only both squads broke each other in the third and fourth games before UT got the deciding service break in the sixth game to go up 4-2. Wake Forest could not force another break as Smith tallied four quick points for the match victory.
"Towards the end, we executed a bit better," said Smith. "We both had good serves, especially when we were down that break. Once we find that service rhythm and movement, we usually take care of ourselves pretty easily. That was evident in our last couple of games. We both held to love and that really showed we played to our strengths. It (the match) was up and down. We were up a break and then down a break. We go back on serve in the tiebreak. They played a great breaker. There were a few points we could have won here and there which could have changed the momentum. To their credit, they (Wake Forest's Steve Forman and Cory Parr) played well. They got the break earlier in the third, but we were able to fight back."
The Vols now play the 10th-ranked Auburn duo of Tim Puetz and Alexey Tsyrenov who rallied from a set down to defeat the No. 4-seed Georgia tandem of Jamie Hunt and Nate Schnugg, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Tennessee and Auburn split the two meetings this season. The Volunteers won close 9-8(6) decision back in October at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Southeast Regional in Lexington, Ky., while the Tigers won 8-5 in the semifinals at the Blue-Gray Invitational in March in Montgomery, Ala.
Live results can be found at www.utsports.com.
NCAA Singles/Doubles Championships Results/Schedule
Saturday, May 23
Doubles (seeds listed in parenthesis)
(2) John-Patrick Smith/Davey Sandgren, Tennessee def. (7) Steve Forman/Cory Parr, Wake Forest - 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3
Sunday, May 24
Doubles (seeds listed in parenthesis)
(2) John-Patrick Smith/Davey Sandgren, Tennessee vs. Tim Puetz/Alexey Tsyrenov, Auburn