LEXINGTON, Ky.-- The Tennessee tennis team lost Sunday's SEC tournament final 4-3 to the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs in Lexington, Ky. The final match lived up to its expectations as the No. 7 Vols (18-5, 11-3 SEC) and the Bulldogs fought to the very end. The Georgia victory was their second over the Vols this season, including a 6-1 win for the Bulldogs April 1 in Athens, Ga.
Georgia (22-1, 14-0 SEC) began the match the way they had hoped, breaking the Vols' six-match streak of winning the doubles point. Georgia was the last team to take the doubles point from the Vols in their April 1 matchup. Georgia's No. 3 pair of Matias Boeker and Travis Parrott struck first, breaking a six match winning streak for the Vols' No. 45 duo of Peter Handoyo and Andy Crews 8-1 in the No. 1 match. The Bulldog tandem of Bo Hodge and Brandon Wagner then clinched the doubles point with an 8-3 victory over Tennessee's No. 18 pair of Mark Parsons and Adam Carey in the No. 2 match.
After losing the doubles segment convincingly to the Bulldogs, the Vols dug in and fought back to tie the match up at 3-3. Leading the way for the Vols were juniors Adam Carey and Mario Toledo, who were the only two Vols to go undefeated in SEC tourney action. No. 60 Adam Carey defeated No. 50 Travis Parrott 6-3, 6-3 in the No. 3 match. The win ended Carey's three match losing skid to Bulldog netters on the season. No. 70 Mario Toledo won his second straight match after returning from injury over No. 44 Brandon Wagner 7-5, 6-1 in the No. 5 match. The win was Toledo's fifth in his last seven matches and evened up his record against ranked opponents this spring to 5-5.
"Great performances today by Adam Carey and Mario Toledo," Tennessee head coach Michael Fancutt said. "Mario is playing great after getting a little time to heal some injuries and Adam has stepped up for us on several occasions this year, including today."
Tennessee freshman Simon Rea continued his exceptional play this spring in a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Nicholas Boeker in the No. 6 match. The win was Rea's fifth in his last six matches and raised his SEC record this season to 8-3.
"Simon (Rea) has been getting better all year and he got another big win today," Fancutt said. "Hopefully he can continue to develop and build on what has been a good freshman season."
Georgia's duo of Matias Boeker and Bo Hodge started the scoring in the singles frame for the Bulldogs with impressive victories in the Nos. 1 and 2 matches respectively. No. 4 Boeker defeated No. 30 Mark Parsons 6-3, 6-3 for his seventh straight win. The loss was Parsons fifth in his last six outings. No. 6 Hodge ended No. 26 Peter Handoyo's six match win streak 6-4, 6-3.
Georgia's No. 35 Lesley Joseph and Tennessee's No. 94 Paul Podbury were left to settle the 3-3 tie in their No. 4 match. The pair were very closely matched, with the first set coming down to a tiebreaker. Podbury started the tiebreaker strong, taking off to a 6-1 lead before Joseph stormed back and won the tiebreaker 9-7 to end the first set. Joseph then went up a break in the second set and was able to hold on for the tournament title clinching 7-6, 6-4 victory.
"This is a tough one to take," Fancutt said. "I really thought we had them beat, but they showed they are a championship quality team and they won the match. I believe we are a championship caliber team as well, but someone has to win. This was just two great teams doing battle and what makes it more bitterly disappointing is that I thought it was ours right up until the end. I really hope we get another shot at those guys in the NCAA tournament."
The Vols will now be waiting for May 3, when the NCAA tournament pairings will be announced. The NCAA regionals will be May 11-13 for all teams obtaining a bid.
# 2 Georgia 4, #7 Tennessee 3