The NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament reached the Final Four today, featuring #1 Virginia, #2 Tennessee, #5 USC, and #11 Georgia. Conveniently for the Dawgs, the Final Four is in Athens. But the Vols were rude guests, eliminating Georgia today to advance to the National Championship match tomorrow (Tuesday) night.
Beating Georgia with championships on the line in any sport makes for a good day. Playing for a National Championship in any sport makes for a great day. And just to give you that little extra push...it'll be the USC Trojans on the other side, who upset #1 Virginia today. The Cavs are the only team to hand Tennessee a loss this year.
The championship will be carried live on ESPNU at 6:00 PM eastern Tuesday night. USC is the defending champion, and the Vols have never won a team national championship in men's tennis; Tennessee has made it this far twice before, but lost to Stanford in 1990 and Georgia in 2001. Chris Woodruff won an individual national championship in 1993.
The format as I understand it, if you're unfamiliar with college tennis like me, is that the two teams will play three one-set doubles matches, and the team that wins the doubles series gets one point. Then six three-set singles matches are contested for an additional six points. It essentially makes it a best of seven matchup, with the first team to earn four points winning the title. (Note: anyone with more tennis knowledge please help clarify if need be)
The Trojans feature two of the top ten players in the country in #3 Steve Johnson and #9 Robert Farah, who combine to form the #2 doubles team in the nation. But the Vols feature the nation's best player in #1 John-Patrick Smith, who combines with Davey Sandgren to form the #3 doubles team in the country.
The University of Tennessee has won 23 National Championships all-time, most recently in women's indoor track last year. The last men's team to win it all was also the indoor track team, back in 2002. If the Vols win tomorrow, tennis will become the ninth sport on campus to have claimed the big prize.
So there are plenty of reasons to care. 6:00 PM, ESPNU. Go Vols.