KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (May 8, 2009) Despite giving No. fifth-ranked Tennessee all they wanted and more the No. 61-ranked ETSU men's tennis team couldn't overcome a late Volunteer rally falling to its in-state rival 4-0, Friday afternoon during first-round play of the NCAA Tournament at the Goodfriend Varsity Tennis Courts in Knoxville.
After falling just short in doubles ETSU could not maintain its one-set lead at No. 6 and No. 3 singles, as the home-courted Vols stormed back taking the final remaining sets for the win.
As played opened ETSU started with a bang as junior Daniel Isaza (Medellin, Columbia) and freshman Robin Akser (Ornskoldsvik, Sweden) gave the Bucs an early lead as they breezed past Matt Brewer and Bryan Swartz 8-2, at No. 3 doubles.
ETSU, needing only one more win to secure the point, battled point-for-point at the No. 1 position. Senior teammates Enrique Olivares (Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela) and Alex Ahlgren (Tyerso, Sweden) jumped out to a quick 3-1, lead over the Vols John-Patrick Smith and Davey Sandgren. Just when it looked like the Bucs would maintain control the No. 3-ranked Tennessee duo rallied back for three straight games and a 4-3 lead midway through the match. After a brief ETSU comeback in game seven, the Vols wouldn't look back taking control of the contest for a late 8-5 win.
With the doubles contest then split a 1-1, all eyes turned to Court 2 as sophomores Grega Teraz (Mojstrana, Slovenia) and Charles Bottoni (Bois Guillaume, France) grinned out a close match against No. 42-ranked Boris Conkic and Matteo Fago. With Tennessee up 6-5, the Vols would go on to break ETSU's serve, serving out the match for the doubles point and an 8-5 win.
As singles play opened ETSU wouldn't go quietly as Ahlgren and Teraz took both their first-sets against Brewer and Fago with identical 6-4, opening frame wins. After Brewer jumped out to a quick second set win the Volunteer junior closed out Ahlgren in the third set 6-3, while Teraz contiuned to battle against Fago.
After Sandgren won his match over Isaza in straight sets at No. 4 singles 6-2, 6-2, the Bucs last hope came down to one its most storied players in school history, No. 18-ranked Enrique Olivares.
In a singles match that featured two of the top players in the nation, defending NCAA Singles Runner-up and No. 5-ranked J.P. Smith of Tennessee battled back in forth with Olivares after the first four games, before Smith took control winning the first set 6-2. With the momentum and the home court on his side, Smith closed out the reigning two-time Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year in the final set 6-1.
With the win Tennessee advances to take on No. 23-ranked Duke during second-round play of the tournament Saturday.
Below are final results of today's match. A link, featuring both coaches' quotes from the tournament, are available through the NCAA Tournament central webpage attached above.
Tennis Match Results
East Tennessee State vs Tennessee
May 08, 2009 at Knoxville, Tenn. (Varsity Courts)
(NCAA Round 1)
#5 Tennessee 4, #61 East Tennessee State 0
1. #5 John-Patrick Smith (UT) def. #18 Enrique Olivares (ETSU) 6-2, 6-1
2. #37 Boris Conkic (UT) vs. Sander Gille (ETSU) 7-6 (7-4), 3-2, unfinished
3. Matteo Fago (UT) vs. Grega Teraz (ETSU) 4-6, 6-3, 5-1, unfinished
4. Davey Sandgren (UT) def. Daniel Isaza (ETSU) 6-2, 6-2
5. Christian Hansen (UT) vs. Robin Akser (ETSU) 7-6 (7-0), 2-2, unfinished
6. Matt Brewer (UT) def. Alex Ahlgren (ETSU) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
1. #3 Davey Sandgren/John-Patrick Smith (UT) def. #62 Alex Ahlgren/Enrique Olivares (ETSU) 8-5
2. #42 Boris Conkic/Matteo Fago (UT) def. Grega Teraz/Charles Bottoni (ETSU) 8-5
3. Robin Akser/Daniel Isaza (ETSU) def. Matt Brewer/Bryan Swartz (UT) 8-2
East Tennessee State 13-8; National ranking #61
Tennessee 22-6; National ranking #5
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (4,1,6)
For more information on the ETSU men's tennis team please visit www.ETSUBucs.com.