John-Patrick Smith, Boris Conkic and Rhyne Williams have company.
Sophomore Tennys Sandgren made Tennessee men’s tennis history Thursday, as his 7-6, 4-3 victory over Texas’ Kellen Damico in the second round of the NCAA singles and doubles championships solidified his status as the Vols’ fourth Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American — the most for a single season in Vols history.
And that season will continue today for all four at Taube Family Tennis Center in Stanford, Calif., as Sandgren, Smith and Williams all advanced to the round of 16 in straight-sets victories in their respective singles matches, while Smith and Conkic did the same in their doubles match.
Sandgren, the Gallatin native who was once the No. 1 recruit in the nation, is on a run of redemption after losing his singles match in the Vols’ season-ending defeat to Georgia at last week’s NCAA quarterfinals.
Sandgren, one day after his upset victory over 13th-ranked Reid Carleton of Duke, didn’t spend nearly as much time on the court Thursday, as Damico was forced to retire midway through the second set because of cramps. Sandgren will face Pepperdine’s Sebastian Fanselow today with a chance to advance to the national quarterfinals on the line.
Smith and Williams will both have that chance, too, as they each advanced with ease against their respective opponents. Smith, a senior, defeated Virginia’s Jarmere Jenkins, 6-3, 6-1, and Williams coasted to a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Javier Garrapiz of Georgia.
Smith will face top-seeded Steve Johnson from Southern Cal, which won the team national championship Tuesday, while Williams will take on Georgia Tech’s Guillermo Gomez.
Conkic and Smith, who downed Ohio State’s Matt Allare and Peter Kobelt, 7-6, 6-2 on Thursday, will face either Kevin King and Juan Spir of Georgia Tech or Kyle McMorrow and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan of Washington.
“It was a little tough in the beginning, a little tight and stiff, I would say,” Conkic said. “We got back in the second set, and I think tomorrow, we will be good to go.”
On the women’s side, both junior Natalie Pluskota and freshman Brynn Boren were eliminated Wednesday in their respective opening-round singles matches, which were delayed two hours by torrential rain. Pluskota fell, 6-1, 6-1, to No. 3 overall seed Hilary Barte of Stanford while Boren lost to Indiana’s Leslie Hureau 2-6, 6-3, 6-6 (7-5).
Rosalía Alda and Millie Nichols lost their opening-round doubles match Thursday to top-seeded Mari Andersson and Jana Juricova of Cal in straight sets. Pluskota’s and Boren’s match against UCLA’s Noelle Hickey and McCall Jones was not complete by press time.