Jan. 15, 2004
ATHENS, Ga. -- Tennessee freshman Kiril Tcherveniachki looked impressive in his collegiate debut Thursday at the SEC Men's Coaches' Indoor Championships. The New Zealand native qualified for the event's main singles draw after going undefeated in his first official day as a Volunteer.
It didn't take long Thursday for Tennessee head coach Michael Fancutt to realize Tcherveniachki would have little trouble adjusting to the elite level of SEC tennis. In his first match of the day, Tcherveniachki outlasted Vanderbilt's Nathan Sachs 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. Tcherveniachki then squared off against Mississippi State's Matt Armstrong, with a spot in the main draw awaiting the victor. The battle-tested Bulldog senior appeared poised to advance after claiming the first set 6-2. But Tcherveniachki brushed aside any thoughts of a setback, winning the final two sets in convincing fashion.
"I was pleased with Kiril's performance today," Tennessee head coach Michael Fancutt said. "I was especially pleased with his second match, which he started badly, losing the first set 6-2. But he then showed he had the pride and fight necessary to come back and win the next two sets."
Tcherveniachki battles Vanderbilt senior Chad Harris, the nation's No. 55-ranked singles player, in the opening round of the main draw Friday.
South African freshman Matt Berry also began his Volunteer career in dramatic fashion, as his first collegiate match was decided by a third-set tiebreaker. Unfortunately for Berry, Florida sophomore Chris Brandi emerged victorious 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(1).
Vol freshman Johnny Thornton was also defeated in qualifying action Thursday. Thornton lost to Georgia's Matic Omerzel in straight sets.
The Volunteer tennis program was given a timely boost Thursday when the NCAA announced final clearance for freshman Ben Rogers and transfer Damien Spizzo (University of Southern California), making them immediately eligible to compete. Both players make their Big Orange debuts Friday in the main singles draw.
Rogers and senior Wade Orr each take on qualifiers Friday, while Spizzo is slated to face LSU All-SEC performer Jason Hazley. Berry and Tcherveniachki will team up for doubles action, as will Orr and Rogers.
|2004 SEC Men's Coaches' Indoor Championships -- Jan. 15|
|Singles Qualifying - First Round|
|Tcherveniachki (UT) def. Sachs (VU), 6-4, 4-6, 6-1|
|Brandi (UF) def. Berry (UT), 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(1)|
|Omerzel (UGA) def. Thornton (UT), 6-1, 6-2|
|Singles Qualifying - Final Round|
|Tcherveniachki (UT) def. Armstrong (MSU), 2-6, 6-1, 6-1|