UT's tennis title quest ends as Southern Cal retains championship

Court is adjourned for Vols, 4-2

Tennessee's Edward Jones celebrates after his team won a doubles match against Southern California in the championship round of the NCAA men's Division I tournament Tuesday, May 25, 2010, in Athens, Ga.

AP Photo / Athens Banner-Herald, David Manning

Tennessee's Edward Jones celebrates after his team won a doubles match against Southern California in the championship round of the NCAA men's Division I tournament Tuesday, May 25, 2010, in Athens, Ga.

UT men's tennis team loses to Southern Cal in NCAA

Tennessee's Davey Sandgren celebrates after his winning his double's match as Tennessee took a 1-0 lead over Southern California  in the NCAA Men's Tennis National Championships on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.

Photo by David Manning

Tennessee's Davey Sandgren celebrates after his winning his double's match as Tennessee took a 1-0 lead over Southern California in the NCAA Men's Tennis National Championships on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.

ATHENS, Ga. — Southern California remains the NCAA men’s tennis national champion.

Tennessee remains in search of the elusive top prize.

To become the new king you have to vanquish the old king and the Vols fell short Tuesday night, losing 4-2 at Henry Feild Stadium.

Two excellent teams went at each other before a crowd of 1,198 and an ESPNU television audience.

Maybe experience on the big stage was the difference. At least that’s what Tennessee came away thinking after only its second loss in 33 matches this season.

“I think they got nervous tonight on a stage where I needed to be able to calm those nerves and turn them around,’’ said coach Sam Winterbotham, “and I don’t think I was able to do that.

“I’ll certainly learn from that.’’

The Vols took the doubles point but the defending champs (25-3) were too strong in singles.

Freshman Ryhne Williams was the only UT player who held his court, recovering from a slow start to win 1-6, 6-2, 6-1 on Court 3.

“It was a wonderful experience,’’ said Williams, who was the only Vol named to the All-Tournament singles squad.

Senior Matt Brewer was ahead 5-3 in the third set on Court 5, but Southern Cal clinched the match on Court 4 before he could record a third Tennessee point.

Steve Johnson beat Boris Conkic, 6-3, 6-2, on Court 2. Robert Farah took down No. 1-ranked John-Patrick Smith on Court 1, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.

On Court 6, Peter Lucassen downed Matteo Fago, 6-3, 6-4, Fago’s first loss at No. 6 all season.

The clincher came at 4. Freshman Tennys Sandgren won the first set on a tiebreaker, but Southern Cal’s Daniel Nguyen won 12 of the final 13 games, including 6-0 in the third set.

Nguyen was named the tournament’s most outstanding player after ending Sandgren’s 15-match win streak.

“Tennys didn’t let us down,’’ Winterbotham said. “The level of play (on that court) was incredible.

“Daniel Nguyen was probably their strongest point and we knew that. He could play No. 1 on most teams.’’

UT got off to a promising start.

Fago and Ed Jones clinched the doubles point at 8-6 and were named to the All-Tournament team.

Smith and Davey Sandgren had earlier won 8-6 over the No. 2-ranked team of Farah and Johnson.

The momentum didn’t translate to singles.

Smith, who had lost in singles Monday night in the semifinal win over Georgia, admitted nerves played a role.

“I’m pretty disappointed in myself,’’ the junior from Australia said. “Once we got to Athens, I didn’t really play the way I’d been playing all season.

“It kind of really hit me, the severity of the moment.

“Definitely, next year I’m not going to let this happen again.’’

The title is Southern Cal’s sixth of the NCAA era, which began in 1977. The Trojans had 12 championships prior to that.

Tennessee is still looking for its first.

The previous near-misses were in 1990, when Stanford spoiled a perfect UT season in the title match, and in 2001, when Tennessee lost here to Georgia before a partisan Bulldog crowd.

The Vols don’t plan on giving up.

They return the bulk of this year’s squad and have at least one outstanding incoming player, Prajnesh Gunneswaran.

“As a team,’’ Winterbotham said, “experiences like this are invaluable.

“The majority of our team is returning. If we find ourselves in the same position next year, I’ll be able to handle it better and I think the players will be able to handle it a little better.’’

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Comments » 31

SouthALVol writes:

damn...go vols

stayingorange writes:

Great season. Tough ending. Wrong time to struggle.

TheOpinion writes:

Its like we just cant get a championship in a male sport anymore. Oh well at least the tennis team played for a championship.

NoSirRee writes:

in response to TheOpinion:

Its like we just cant get a championship in a male sport anymore. Oh well at least the tennis team played for a championship.

It is ridiculously hard to win a championship in male sports for every school. Think about how many legitimate contenders don't win the championship in football every year. Basketball is another great example.

RockyToptoNeyland writes:

why does usc exist?

houvol#438636 writes:

Oh man! Because of Kiffin it does make this loss even tougher. The team had a great year. Maybe next year they can bring home the gold.

cloudodust writes:

Bummer. Tennessee's Men's Tennis took a stride. I won't say it's off and running but it did take a big step forward and has something to build on. CONGRATS to the guys on a very good year.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

First time I ever watched a college tennis match. Very exciting. These guys competed with great intensity and represented the University well. I'm very proud of them. Go Vols!

ATLVOL55 writes:

Agreed...marinevol...i watched as well...USC looked really tough...proud of the Vols though..

Looks like we have almost the entire team coming back next year...look for them to be in contention again next year

TonyGeist writes:

in response to ATLVOL55:

Agreed...marinevol...i watched as well...USC looked really tough...proud of the Vols though..

Looks like we have almost the entire team coming back next year...look for them to be in contention again next year

USC IS really tough. Not only are they defending champions, but they had nearly everyone on their squad back from last year. Steve Johnson, #1 for most of the year and ranked #3 last night, was playing at the TWO court. Robert Farah, #9, played at the one. All six of their players are ranked in the ITA 150. Just ridiculous how good that team is.

VOLsince68 writes:

Awesome guys!! Keep this momentum up and let's do it again next year.

GO VOLS!!!!!!

wally writes:

Great year Vols. One of the most exciting, if not the most, in Tennessee history. You have nothing to hang your heads about. You've gotten something started and I'm looking forward to next season. GBO!!!!!

kazoo writes:

It's HARD getting over the top in some of these sports. It stinks being a bridesmaid (2nd) three times in men's tennis--but then we lost once title playing georgia (tennis power) at their place, and now we've lost twice in the final, I believe, to the other powerhouse--usc. I was shocked at what a terrible start we had in singles--we lost the first set in five of six matches, which put us in a massive hole against good players. Ironically, the only guy who won his first set--Sandgren, in a tiebreaker--got smoked in the last two sets. Meanwhile, Williams, who got smoked in his first set, was the only Vol who won. I thought we'd do a lot better--as this UT team has been waxing everybody. VERY disappointing as this looked to be our year in tennis.

goldengirl writes:

in response to kazoo:

It's HARD getting over the top in some of these sports. It stinks being a bridesmaid (2nd) three times in men's tennis--but then we lost once title playing georgia (tennis power) at their place, and now we've lost twice in the final, I believe, to the other powerhouse--usc. I was shocked at what a terrible start we had in singles--we lost the first set in five of six matches, which put us in a massive hole against good players. Ironically, the only guy who won his first set--Sandgren, in a tiebreaker--got smoked in the last two sets. Meanwhile, Williams, who got smoked in his first set, was the only Vol who won. I thought we'd do a lot better--as this UT team has been waxing everybody. VERY disappointing as this looked to be our year in tennis.

Nerves, nerves, nerves. After this experience, the players will be better able to handle the pressure. Knoxville is so lucky to have such a fantastic opportunity to see this kind of tennis. Showing up to support them can make a difference as proven by the UGA tennis fans in Athens.

volboy81 writes:

in response to VOLsince68:

Awesome guys!! Keep this momentum up and let's do it again next year.

GO VOLS!!!!!!

I agree!! Fun match to watch. Thought we would beat them, esp. when we won the doubles point. All the guys gave it their all for Tennessee and made us proud. We'll get 'em next year!!
GO VOLS!!!!

Volunatic writes:

Well it was a great season, despite the disappointment yesterday. Good job, Vol Tennis team!

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

Way to give your all guys. I was watching it last night so proud another sport reaches a new plateau again.

You carried the SEC well, hate it was against THAT school.

McMinnVol writes:

Very entertaining on ESPNU last night. To me, what is interesting is how all those matches are going on simultaneously and with lots of hollering from the fans in the stands - while at Wimbledon the announcer says "quiet please" about every other point. Those college kids have to block out the distractions a lot more than the pros do.

Go Vols - we will get them next year!

Bigger_Al writes:

That was a great match to watch. We were getting beat in Doubles, then all three matches turned around. In singles, Smith started out well in his match, then it turned around and you could sense trouble. Brewer was gutsy in coming back and almost getting his point on the board. When Tennys won his tie-breaker in the first set, I thought he was in good shape, but I didn't realize the caliber of competition he was up against.

77VolFS writes:

Went down to the match in Athens - the level of play between the two teams was amazing. Had a good group in orange but still thought we'd have more fans at a NC event. I felt pretty good after we got the doubles point but SC depth, like ours, was strong all the way to #6. Vols knew they were in for a fight and fought hard, SC was just a bit better. We'll be back next year. Go Vols!

PennVol writes:

in response to McMinnVol:

Very entertaining on ESPNU last night. To me, what is interesting is how all those matches are going on simultaneously and with lots of hollering from the fans in the stands - while at Wimbledon the announcer says "quiet please" about every other point. Those college kids have to block out the distractions a lot more than the pros do.

Go Vols - we will get them next year!

I thought the same thing. I had no idea how the NCAA tennis championship worked, but it is interesting in that it becomes a "race" to get to 4 points as opposed to seeing who wins the most matches.

77VolFS writes:

in response to PennVol:

I thought the same thing. I had no idea how the NCAA tennis championship worked, but it is interesting in that it becomes a "race" to get to 4 points as opposed to seeing who wins the most matches.

It is who wins the most matches, it's just that there's a total of 7 points - once a team reaches 4 there's no reason to continue play.

budd#207344 writes:

I like the way CSW took responsibility for the guys nervousness and said he had learned from the experience. Hopefully other coaches will learn to take responsibility for things that go wrong.

Great effort and a great season. I think we are on our way to many very good tennis seasons. Thanks Coach, Thanks guys.

NeylandWest writes:

in response to AthensHomerDawg:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Agreed, but I still laugh my @ss off every time I watch the old Johnny Knoxville clip when he dresses up in converse sneakers and a full-blown TN football uniform and tries to walk-on at USC; completely mocking them.

VOLliven2it writes:

Well, that former coach(joke)wins again! In all honesty, our UT men's tennis team has nothing to be ashamed of for their effort and a great year. Way to go guys, hang in and go back next year and get it! GO VOLS!

VolunteerLifer writes:

It's not every day one of our teams gets to compete for a national championship. Kudos to the players and the coaches. It looks like the Tennis program is on the map and in the national picture for a long time to come. Way to go, tennis Volunteers.

usnavyvol writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

voloffaith writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You know why I want your name changed? Not so much mimicking Witchie 'bones don't lie' doctor,but when I see name I think of family and friends who have or are going through Chemothrapy for cancer. I know that never crossed your mind and no intentions. That's just what eats at me every time I see the little blurb. I know you won't change it and don't really expect you to.

On Topic, thanks gents for the valiant effort in NCAA team champoionships. Now go out and bring home a singles and doubles one in the NCAA! GO VOLS!!!

NobodyCares (Inactive) writes:

in response to SECFB:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What means "instits?"

bigdisbig writes:

The only thing good about USC is that its in California where its the only state that North Korea can reach with a nuke if and when they get one. Maybe it will drop off in the ocean one day from a quake but then again all the candy arses and gays will try to swim to Hawaii and make it the most worthless state in the US just like Cal. is now.
Any state that continues to vote that worthless Pelosi in congress needs to go away.

jeff1vol writes:

A MEN, Big! Cali is the biggest joke of a state known to human kind. To bad they can't govern like they can play tennis!
Don't worry though...when their $$ runs out, they'll coming running east of the Mississippi looking for their bailout!

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