Tennessee sophomore John-Patrick Smith won his first round match over ATP tour member Prakash Amritraj Monday at the $50,000 Knoxville Challenger that is being held on UT’s campus at the Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center.
Smith dropped the first set to the 210th-ranked Amritraj 6-4, but he battled back to capture the second and third sets to advance. Smith came into the match ranked 10th in the NCAA collegiate rankings but was ranked 1,148th in the ATP world rankings. The victory gave the Australia native confidence for the upcoming season.
“It was a huge victory for me,” Smith said. “I lost the first set, but I had confidence that I could turn it around and win. Prakash is a great player, and I had to play extremely well to win. It was nice to get the victory in Knoxville. I haven’t played against an opponent in Knoxville that hasn’t been one of my teammates since May. I love playing on our courts and this just gets me excited for January when our team season starts.”
Smith plays Wednesday in the second round.
Davey Sandgren and his younger brother, Tennys, opened play in the main draw doubles bracket by defeating another set of brothers in Brian and Dann Battistone in the first round. The Sandgren duo defeated the Battistone pair 7-6, 10-6 to advance. The brothers face yet another pair of siblings in the second round Wednesday when they face twins Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwanana.
Boris Conkic and Matteo Fago did not advance out of the first round of doubles but did show they could compete with the best. The UT duo overcame a nervous start to play even with Carstan Ball and Travis Rettenmaier in the second set, before falling, 6-1, 7-6(5).
Former UT All-American Ben Rogers competed in the doubles tournament with partner Ryan Rowe, but the pair was knocked out in the first round by tournament No. 1 seed Rajeev Ram and Bobby Reynolds.
Vols and former Vols all got in on the action in qualifying for the main draw. Current UT netters Matt Brewer, Fago Sandgren and Bryan Swartz saw action in qualifying against the world’s next tennis stars. None of the four players were able to advance, but each got a taste for what it will take to have a professional career.
Sandgren went the distance against John Peers in his first round match before falling in a third set tiebreaker. Fago lost in straight sets to Marcus Fugate, ranked 608th in the world, but played even with the pro in the second set falling in a tiebreaker.
Former Vols, Rogers (2004-07) and Kiril Tcherveniachki (2004-07) both competed in qualifying and both advanced to the second round. Rogers knocked off Jordan Cox in the first round before falling to Milan Pokrajac, ranked 518th in the world, in the second round.