Eighth-ranked Tennessee roared into the semifinals of the ITA Indoor National Championships on Saturday night, rallying past top-ranked Ohio State for a 4-3 victory in Chicago.
The Vols lost the doubles point and trailed 2-0 before turning things around. Matteo Fago clinched the win for Tennessee with a straight-set triumph at the fourth position.
“We’re a resilient team and a confident team,” UT head coach Sam Winterbotham said. “We believe in ourselves. We didn’t panic when we lost the doubles point. We stayed together and focused on getting four points in singles.
“What was really impressive to (associate head coach) Chris (Woodruff) and me was how we stuck together. The guys that finished their match came right over and started to support the guys that were still playing. The guys who weren’t in the lineup at all today were the loudest guys in the building. This is a team and we’re showing it.
“Different guys are stepping up at different times. We’re not relying on any one individual. Different guys step in when they are needed and Chris and I could not be prouder.”
Fago clinched the win for Tennessee (7-0) with a straight-set win over No. 38 Balazs Novak at the fourth position. The Tennessee sophomore won the first set, 6-3, but found himself down a break, 3-1 in the second set. Fago settled down and battled back to put the match back on serve. Both players held serve until the set was tied at five, when Fago was able to break Novak’s serve to take the lead, 6-5, and then was able to serve out to win the set and the match, 6-3, 7-5.
Ohio State (8-1) took an early 1-0 by winning the doubles point. Matt Allare and Novak defeated the Volunteers’ Matt Brewer and Christian Hansen at the third position, 8-3. The Buckeyes clinched the point at the first spot, where Justin Kronauge and Steven Moneke defeated Davey Sandgren and John Patrick Smith, 8-4.
The Vols stemmed any Ohio State momentum at the beginning of singles by capturing the first set in four of the six matches.
Brewer tied the match at two with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 77 Shuhei Uzawa at the sixth position.
Boris Conkic gave UT a 3-2 lead with a 6-3, 6-4 win over the nation’s sixth-ranked singles player, Kronauge, at the second position. Conkic, ranked 103rd in singles, has defeated the No. 13 and now the No. 6 in the country at the ITA.