Oct. 7, 2010
In both wins and losses, Tennessee experienced its share of upsets Thursday to open main-draw competition at the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, Okla.
Sophomore Rhyne Williams defeated fifth-seeded Chase Buchanan of Ohio State, and senior Matteo Fago, who played three rounds of qualifying earlier this week, outlasted sixth-seeded Michael Shabaz of Virginia in three sets.
The Vols were also dealt one of the stunners of the day when defending champion and No. 1 seed John-Patrick Smith lost 7-5, 6-3 to host Tulsa's Marcelo Arevalo in the opening round. Smith got off to a rocky start in his consolation match but recovered with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Southern California's Peter Lucassen.
In Friday's round of 16, Williams faces ninth-seeded Alexandre Lacroix of Florida, who played No. 1 in the Gators' lineup last season. Fago plays 10th-seeded Austen Childs of Louisville, an NCAA singles finalist last season.
Three-Set Wins, Retirement Propel Fago into Third Round
Fago, an All-American qualifier, continued his impressive fall season in the first two rounds Thursday at the All-American. In his first national individual tournament, Fago was put to a fitness test Thursday with a pair of matches that were pushed to three sets.
In his opening round, Fago won his first set in a tiebreaker and had a chance to beat No. 103 Mehdi Bouras of UNLV in the second set when serving up 5-4. Fago lost his serve and ended up losing the second set tiebreaker, but he rebounded in the third set to win the match 7-6 (3), 6-7 (4), 6-3.
Fago and Virginia's Shabaz were deadlocked 3-6, 6-4, 2-2 in the second round when Shabaz retired because of cramping. The victory over Shabaz was the highest-ranked victory of Fago's career and his first against an opponent in the top 25.
The native of Ceprano, Italy, is 4-0 against ranked opponents already this fall. He only had four ranked wins through the first three years of his collegiate career.
Fago and Stanford's Ryan Thacher are the only qualifiers remaining in the round of 16. Both have played five matches the last four days.
Williams Advances with Straight-Set Victories
Williams, a Knoxville native, took a pair of straight-set victories to reach the round of 16. He opened his day with a tight 7-6 (4), 7-5 win over Tulsa wild card Clifford Marsland.
He faced fifth-ranked Buchanan later in the afternoon and jumped ahead to a 5-0 lead early. Williams won the first set 6-1, but the second set went into a tiebreaker. Williams fell behind 6-3 but managed to rally for an 8-6 victory in the tiebreaker to win the match 6-1, 7-6 (6).
Williams, currently ranked No. 21 nationally, now has two career victories over top-10 opponents. He beat Southern California's Steve Johnson, then ranked No. 3, in the first round of the NCAA Singles Championships last season.
Smith, Williams Continue in Doubles
For Smith, the chance to defend an All-American title did not end with Thursday's first-round loss in singles. He won the doubles championship last season with Boris Conkic as well, and his bid to become the first repeat doubles champion in tournament history stayed alive with a quick victory in the opening round.
Smith and Williams cruised to an 8-3 win over Yale's Erik Blumenkraz and Joel Samaha. They improved to 3-1 as a pairing and face Florida's Alexandre Lacroix and Nassim Slilam in the round of 16.
Smith earned a pair of wins against Lacroix in No. 1 doubles last season during the SEC season and again in the conference tournament, but both were playing with different partners.
If Smith and Williams defeat the Florida pairing, they will play their quarterfinal match in the afternoon.
ITA All-American Championships
Main Draw Singles
Round of 64
Marcelo Arevalo, Tulsa, def. (1) John-Patrick Smith, UT, 7-5, 6-3
(Q) Matteo Fago, UT, def. Mehdi Bouras, UNLV, 7-6 (3), 6-7 (4), 6-3
Rhyne Williams, UT, def. Clifford Marsland, Tulsa, 7-6 (4), 7-5
Round of 32
(Q) Matteo Fago, UT, def. (6) Michael Shabaz, Virginia, 3-6, 6-4, 2-2 ret.
Rhyne Williams, UT, def. (5) Chase Buchanan, Ohio State, 6-1, 7-6 (6)
Round of 32
John-Patrick Smith, UT, def. Peter Lucassen, USC, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Round of 16
John-Patrick Smith, UT, vs. Sadio Doumbia, Georgia
Main Draw Doubles
Round of 32
(6) John-Patrick Smith/Rhyne Williams, UT, def. Erik Blumenkraz/Joel Samaha, Yale, 8-3
Round of 16
(6) John-Patrick Smith/Rhyne Williams, UT, vs. Alexandre Lacroix/Nassim Slilam, Florida