LEXINGTON, Ky.-- The Tennessee tennis team defeated No. 17 Alabama 4-2 Saturday to advance to Sunday's final round against the winner of tonight's Georgia-Ole Miss matchup. Tennessee moves to 18-4 overall on the season and 11-2 in SEC play. The win was the Vols second this year over the Tide (19-9, 7-7 SEC), after a 4-3 win March 4.
"This match is another indicator of us getting better as a team," Tennessee head coach Michael Fancutt said. "We are close to reaching our goal of winning the SEC tournament and I believe we have the team right now to give us a shot."
The Vols won their sixth straight doubles point to start the match, which stretched their record to 12-0 when winning the doubles point. The Vols' 18th-ranked pair of Mark Parsons and Adam Carey started things off by winning their sixth match in their last seven outings over Alabama's Chris Gostek and Stephen Mitchell 8-5 in the No. 2 match. No. 45 Andy Crews and Peter Handoyo then clinched the Vols' sixth straight doubles point with an 8-6 win over the Tide duo of Max Belski and William Boyles in the No. 1 match.
Tennessee continued to apply pressure in the singles segment, as the Vols won three of the five completed matches to finish off the Tide. Tennessee junior Peter Handoyo led the Vols with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over last week's SEC player of the week Susheel Narla in the No. 2 match. The win was a team-leading 32nd on the season for the 26th-ranked Handoyo.
"This was another gutsy performance by Peter (Handoyo) under difficult circumstances," Fancutt said. "Peter has had a tough spring, with injuries and such, but everytime it looks like he is going to have some trouble he sucks it up and just keeps on winning. He is a great leader for this team."
Tennessee junior Mario Toledo has also had a tough spring from an injury perspective. He has taken the past two weeks off, but he made his comeback today a successful one. No. 70 Toledo defeated Alabama's Chris McRae 6-1, 6-3 in the No. 5 match for his first victory since March 30. Vol senior Paul Podbury, ranked No. 94, then clinched the match for the Vols with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Stephen Mitchell in the No. 4 match.
"I am looking forward to playing in tomorrow's final," Fancutt said. "I think either Georgia or Ole Miss will be really tough. Obviously we would like to get back at Georgia after losing down at their place. We have already beaten Ole Miss twice this year and it is really hard to beat the same team three times in one year."
The Vols will take on the winner of tonight's Georgia-Ole Miss matchup Sunday at noon in Lexington. The Vols previously lost to Georgia 6-1 April 1. The Vols defeated the Rebels 4-2 Feb. 16 at the National Indoor tournament and the Vols also won 4-3 April 6 in Oxford, Miss.