Jan. 31, 2004
Tennessee senior Simon's Rea emphatic cry of "Fight Vols!" after winning the final point in his singles match summarized the afternoon for the No. 54-ranked Volunteers, who lost a fiercely contested dual match to No. 29-ranked Virginia 4-3 Saturday afternoon at the Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center.
"I was disappointed with the result today," Tennessee head coach Michael Fancutt said. "I thought we were going to win for most of the match. We won the doubles point, and we won the first set in three of the first four singles matches. So I'm disappointed that we lost, but I think it will help us as a team to get better and work harder. I think we're only probably 50 percent of the team we're going to be during the championship part of the season."
In their first action as a doubles pairing, junior Damien Spizzo and freshman Ockie Oosthuizen built a commanding 6-0 lead over Virginia sophomores Rylan Rizza and Doug Stewart before posting an 8-1 victory at the No. 2 position to open the day's scoring.
It wasn't until more than a half hour later that Tennessee freshman Ben Rogers landed a well-placed overhead on the Virginia baseline to give him and partner Rea a doubles-clinching win over Marko Miklo and Stephen Rozek at the No. 1 spot.
Junior Mark Dietrich returned to action for the Vols for the first time since suffering a broken right leg last September. Dietrich rejoined his old doubles partner Wade Orr at the No. 3 position and began the match by holding serve to give his team an early lead. However, the Virginia team of Darrin Cohen and Nick Meythaler eventually won the contest 9-8.
"It was great to see Mark Dietrich back on the court," Fancutt said. "He was his usual loud, positive self. He played really well for the first half of the match, but then I think he got a little mentally and physically tired."
Taking a 1-0 match lead into singles competition, the Vols rushed out to early leads at each of the first four positions. Things would be far from easy for UT, however, as three of those contests went three sets.
Virginia evened the match at 1-1 when Rozek defeated Spizzo in three sets at No. 2 singles, but Rea reclaimed the match lead for Tennessee by defeating No. 25-ranked Stewart at the No. 1 position.
The Cavaliers took the next two points via wins from Rizza and Miklo at Nos. 3 and 4 singles, respectively.
Trailing 3-2, the Volunteers' hopes rested on the shoulders of two freshmen, Rogers and Kiril Tcherveniachki, playing in only their fourth collegiate dual match. Meythaler built an large first-set lead over Rogers, and went on to post a 6-1, 6-2 win to clinch the Virginia victory.
Tcherveniachki added UT's final point by defeating Cohen in straight sets.
Tennessee will now have a two-week break from competition before it returns to action for a Feb. 14 home dual match against William & Mary.