KNOXVILLE-- The Tennessee tennis team defeated No. 22 Ohio State Sunday 4-1 in the NCAA region final at the UT Varsity Tennis Center. The Vols advance to the round of sixteen beginning in Athens, Ga. May 19. The No. 6 Vols now stand at 20-5 on the season and will meet the winner of today's Kentucky-South Alabama matchup Saturday in Athens.
"I am really proud of my guys," Tennessee head coach Michael Fancutt said. "Our guys are playing with determination and they believe they can win every match. Getting to the final four last season really has given our guys the confidence this season that they can win this tournament. You can see in their eyes how badly they want to win this tournament. I believe they have probably trained harder than any other team and today we saw the benefits of that."
The Vols began the match winning their second straight doubles point. The Vol pair of Adam Carey and Mark Parsons struck first, with an 8-4 victory over Bob Wellstein and Derek DeFalco in the No. 2 match. The win was Carey and Parsons' fifth in six matches. The Tennessee duo of Simon Rea and Mario Toledo then clinched the doubles point for the Vols with an 8-5 Victory over Phil Metz and Chris Porter in the No. 3 match.
The match would become much closer in the singles segment, as the Vols and the Buckeyes each lead in three of the matches before the Vols clinched the victory. Tennessee junior Peter Handoyo has been dispatching of players very quickly as of late and the Buckeye's Adrian Bohane did not prove to be an exception. No. 25 Handoyo needed only 45 minutes to down Bohane in the No. 3 match 6-0, 6-3 and give his teammates an in-match lift. The win was Handoyo's team-leading 33rd victory of the season.
Ohio State (25-4) struck back in the No. 1 match, where No. 36 Phil Metz downed the Vols Mark Parsons 6-3, 6-4. Vol freshman Simon Rea then finished off OSU's Vincent Ng in what was the match of the day. Rea won the first set easily 6-1, but Ng came back and took a 5-2 lead in the second set. Rea would not give up the set, however. Rea came back and won the next five games to go up 6-5 in the second set. Ng then tied the set up at 6-6 and they were headed to a tiebreaker. In the tiebreaker, Ng went up 6-3, to set himself up with three set points. Rea would come right back and tie it up at 6-6, before he finally pulled out the victory 13-11 in the tiebreak.
"It was tough out there today," Rea said. "Ng changed styles on me in the second set. He went to a serve and volley style, which I don't see much. So Coach Mahony (UT assistant) came over and told me what I might try to get back into the set. So, I did what he said and the rest is history."
"I am very proud of Simon (Rea) today," Fancutt said. "I am not just happy he won, but how he did it. He was down in the second set and I just told him in tennis, like in life, not everything works out like you want. The Buckeye's player (Ng) changed styles and so Simon just had to adjust and deal with the adversity. He did deal with it and he gave us a very clutch point out there."
Tennessee senior Paul Podbury, ranked No. 95 nationally, then clinched the match for the Vols in what was his last home match as a Vol. Podbury defeated Bob Wellstein 6-4, 6-4 in the No. 5 match to clinch the sweet sixteen birth for the Vols. The win also moved Podbury past UT assistant coach Chris Mahony for 8th place on the Vols all-time singles win list with 91 career victories.