The No. 2 Tennessee men’s tennis team defeated No. 13 South Carolina 4-2 on Saturday. The Vols advanced to the ITA Indoor National Championship semifinals after #100 Emile Hudd’s clincher.
The Vols overcame losing five out of their first six sets in singles play to pick up the win.
"I thought we were resilient," head coach Chris Woodruff said. "I can't say we played well consistently throughout the match, but we showed signs of playing well. We played well when we needed to. We're a program that fights and we expect to be in these kinds of positions. South Carolina battled us and we knew going into the match it was going to be a tough one."
The Vols have overcome their doubles woes throughout the tournament, winning the doubles point for the second consecutive day.
After being moved to court two on Friday, Pat Harper and Adam Walton breezed through court two in their 6-1 win.
The clincher for the doubles point came from Johannus Monday and Mark Wallner, winning court three 6-3 to put Tennessee in a good position moving forward in the match. This marks Monday and Wallner’s third doubles match together, and the duo has won all three.
Following last Sunday’s close win over Columbia, Woodruff expressed his frustration about losing the doubles point. The Vols finally seem to be over the hump after strong performances in doubles this weekend.
"They've had good energy," Woodruff said. "They've been going for their shots, executing the game plan, taking care of simple shots and playing within their skillset. Obviously, we've talked about when you get to a tournament like this, you're not going to lose the doubles point and consistently do well."
In singles, the Vols started off much slower than they had on Friday, dropping all but one first set.
Tennessee was able to bounce back in the second and third sets to win three courts and secure the magic number fourth win.
No. 10 Johannus Monday finished first for the Vols, dropping the first set 7-5 but took the next two sets 6-3 and 6-1 in convincing fashion, winning 11 of the last 12 games.
Last Sunday’s hero, No. 122 Angel Diaz, helped the Vols take a 3-2 lead. He lost a first set tiebreak but stormed back to win 12 of the last 16 games.
The clincher came from Hudd, winning in three sets 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
The Vols will face No. 3 Baylor – who defeated fellow SEC foe Kentucky – in the semifinals with a chance to advance to the national championship.
"We have to play smart and play tough," Woodruff said. "We know both of these teams. One is a formidable indoor opponent that we've played several times. We just have to recover and take care of business. It's not so much about putting emphasis on the school we're playing. We just have to focus on ourselves."
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