Courtesy: Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee sophomore Taylor Patrick won two matches Sunday to capture his first career singles title at the Southern Intercollegiate Championships in Athens, Ga.

Patrick played his way through six matches in three days in the Division III draw, with the final two rounds moving indoors Sunday because of rain. He did not let the wet weather spoil his afternoon, defeating UNC-Wilmington’s Illia Ziamstov 6-4, 7-6 (3) in the semifinals and Wofford’s Paul Bartholomy 6-2, 6-1 for the championship.

“My game is really coming together,” Patrick said. “I felt like I had a good week of individuals coming into the weekend. In practice, we worked a lot on game plan and style, but Sam (Winterbotham) and I also spent a long time focusing on mentality. Throughout the tournament, I felt like I was really able to focus on playing my game one point at a time, and that really helped.”

Patrick, a Knoxville native, never dropped a set as he worked through the 64-player field. Perhaps it was a sign of things to come when he started the tournament the best way possible, a 6-0, 6-0 shutout of Radford’s Alex Metzner in the opening round.

“This tournament definitely helped out in terms of confidence,” Patrick said. “Knowing how I played, my game style, the focus I showed out on the courts, will definitely help. When I’m playing, I can come back and reflect on this experience and the mentality I played with this weekend.”

Through one weekend, Patrick leads the Vols with a 6-0 singles record and is the sole owner of a fall tournament title. He won two matches to end his freshman season, so he currently has a team-best eight-match winning streak as well.

“It’s great to start to a season going into any tournament and finishing 6-0,” Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. “Taylor’s really improved. We’ve just seen him get better every match.

“Even though he won his first match 6-0, 6-0, you could tell he was definitely playing better and better as the tournament went on. He’s starting to understand how to play the game style that suits him best. He works as hard as anyone on the team to keep improving.”

Last year, the Vols won eight individual tournament titles before the dual match season began. Again, Patrick was the first to get a trophy. In his first career tournament, he teamed up with Max Stevens to take the Flight B championship at the Louisville Fall Invitational.

The Vols ended their spring season in Athens with a 4-2 loss to Southern California in the NCAA Championship match. That said, Patrick said he was especially glad to finally win a trophy, albeit an individual one, on Georgia’s home courts. 

Tennessee’s fall tournament schedule continues Saturday at the Georgia Tech Fall Invitational in Atlanta. Sophomore Rhyne Williams won that event last year, defeating senior Matteo Fago in the championship.

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