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Tennessee freshman J.P. Smith defeated 11th-ranked Andre Begemann of Pepperdine 6-2, 6-4, Sunday to advance to the finals of the NCAA Singles Championships played at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla.
“J.P. is just playing great tennis right now,” head coach Sam Winterbotham said. “I wish we could play the championship match right now because he looks like he could play another match right now. This is just a phenomenal accomplishment for J.P.”
Smith broke Begemann’s serve early in the first set to cruise to a 6-2 victory. In the second set both players stayed on serve until Smith was able to break the Pepperdine netters serve with the match tied at four games. The UT freshman than served out the match to advance to the championship.
The UT freshman is the first Vol to advance to the championship match since associate head coach Chris Woodruff won the tournament in 1993.
Smith has saved some of his best tennis of the season for the NCAA tournament. In five matches in Tulsa, the UT netter has dropped only one set as he has defeated five straight ranked opponents.
The SEC Freshman of the Year is now 34-10 on the year and 17-8 against ranked opponents.
Smith faces top-ranked Somdev Devvarman of Virginia in Monday’s championship match. The match is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. CT. Devvarman won the singles championship last season. He is trying to become the first back-to-back NCAA champion since Matias Boeker of Georgia won the championships in 2001 and 2002.
“I have one more match to go,” Smith said. “It’s going to be a tough match. I am playing the No. 1 player in the country now.. He’s been here before; he won it last year and was in the final the year before. He knows the situation and expectation that comes from the final. I’m looking forward to it. I am playing the best tennis right now, which is good. Hopefully, I can get one more done.”
Live scoring for all matches can be found at tulsahurricane.com.
NCAA Championships - Sun., May 25
Singles - Semifinals
No. 24 J.P. Smith (UT) def. No. 11 Andre Begemann (Pepp) 6-2, 6-4