The following was originally published on utsports.com.
ORLANDO, Fla. - After splitting the first two sets of the afternoon, the Aussie duo of senior Adam Walton and junior Pat Harper outlasted Auburn's Finn Murgett and Tad Maclean, 13-11 in a thrilling third-set super tiebreak to claim the 2021 NCAA Doubles National Championship on Friday at the USTA National Campus.
The win gives Tennessee men's tennis four individual national titles in program history, with Walton and Harper's being the third to come on in doubles action.
"I'm really happy for our entire team and everyone who has played a part in our success this year," head coach Chris Woodruff said. "This has been a journey of improvement both physically and mentally for all the players. Adam and Pat have worked incredibly hard and I know they will cherish this victory forever."
The afternoon's opening set was a back-and-forth affair that saw each side earn a break of the other. Ultimately, the Vols held serve at 5-6 and earned a tight, 7-5 tiebreak victory to take the first set, 7-6(5).
Murgett and Maclean rolled past Harper and Walton in the second (6-2), using two early breaks to even the match at a set apiece.
In the match deciding super tiebreak, the sides once again went point-for-point. The breaker was even at each of the first three change overs at 3-3, 6-6 and 9-9. Facing match point and down 11-10, Walton and Harper fought off a massive serve from Murgett to even things at 11-11.
The duo fought off a second Murgett serve to take a 12-11 lead and a chance to serve for the match.
On match point, Walton lifted a half volley over the far side of the net to give the Orange & White's top doubles pair the National title.
"This was easily one of the most rewarding feelings I've had in my career. Getting to watch how hard these guys have worked to improve their doubles has been incredible." Woodruff said.
Walton and Harper's trophy is the third doubles crown for Tennessee men's tennis. The other two came in 1980 from Rodney Harmon and Mel Purcell and in 2014 from the tandem of Hunter Reese and Mikelis Libietis.
FINISHING THE RIGHT WAY
Walton and Harper closed the year on a 12-match win streak, winning 17 of their final 18 sets of the season. The tandem finished the year 31-7 as a pair and 19-6 in dual play.
WALTS NEARS 100/100 CLUB
Walton closes his fourth year on Rocky Top with 98 career singles wins and 79 doubles triumphs. That leaves the Home Hill, Australia native just a pair of singles wins and 21 doubles victories away from reaching the coveted 100/100 club-a feat that has been accomplished by just five Vols in the history of Tennessee tennis.