Vols Tennis vs Georgia Tech

The No. 6 seed Tennessee men’s tennis team kicked of its pursuit of the NCAA Title with a 4-0 sweep of Tennessee Tech in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The match was moved inside to Goodfriend Tennis Center due to heavy storms, but that did not keep the Vols from rolling to victory.

The Vols (23-7) have never won a national championship in any form in the program’s history. They reached the ITA Indoor Championship earlier this dual season and reached the semifinal round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, but the title still eludes them. The last time Tennessee was in the NCAA Title match was in 2010.

"I am confident moving forward," Tennessee head coach Chris Woodruff said. "We have to do some things significantly better tomorrow. We know Duke is talented or else they wouldn't have won today, and they wouldn't be where they are today. I'm expecting a good match. We'll watch some film and hopefully fix a few things."

The Vols began the match by taking the doubles point for the 21st time this season, improving to 19-2 in such instances.

No. 21 Emile Hudd and Shunsuke Mitsui used two early breaks to cruise to a 6-2 victory on court two over Evzen Holis and Jun Sasagawa. Their net game was solid throughout the set as the height of Hudd paired with the speed of Mitsui proved lethal once again.

Johannus Monday and Mark Wallner provided stability on court three as they have since Woodruff paired the two together, defeating Carlos Vicente and Rafael Tosettoto 6-4 and improving to 13-1 as a duo. The Vols’ midseason turnaround on the doubles side has been in large part thanks to their success.

In singles play, No. 3 Adam Walton took turns holding serve with Elias Grubert early in the first set to even the score at 2-2.

“I had a clean singles performance," Walton said. "He held twice at the start and his level was good at the start. Then, I felt like I broke through on a short deuce at 3-2 to get the break at 4-2. Ever since then I was able to free up a bit. I felt that I was able to bring a better level and just carry that through to the end of that first set.”

Walton then exploded to take the last 10 games of the match, taking court one 6-2, 6-0 to give the Vols a 2-0 lead.

“In the second set, again just played more aggressive and I felt like he was getting a little bit tired, it was quite hot," Walton said. "I just knew I was more fit than him. Playing in that humid heat in the indoor building was obviously favorable for me. I was just able to carry that momentum to win that set quite comfortably.”

Senior Martim Prata gave Tennessee a 3-0 advantage when he defeated Andre Rodeia in straight sets 6-1 6-4. He took a 5-2 lead in the second set and it looked like he would cruise to victory, but Rodeia came back with a break to set the score at 5-4. Prata ultimately weathered the storm with a break of his own to win court two.

"I think I played a great first set, but then made some mistakes in the second set," Prata said. "I just thought he served really well, so it was kind of hard to break him. It was a good match and I think I played well. I know him (Andre Rodeia), as he's from Portugal as well and I've played him before. It was pretty fun to get out there and compete."

No. 10 Monday went on to deliver the clinch for Tennessee, defeating Berghaus in straights 6-3, 7-5 and sending the Vols to the second round.

Tennessee will face No. 21 Duke on Saturday in the Round of 32 for a chance to move on to next weekend’s NCAA Super Regionals. First serve is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST at Barksdale Stadium pending weather conditions.

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