Feb. 14, 2004
Tennessee's men's tennis team lost a tough, five-hour dual match to No. 41-ranked William & Mary 4-3 Saturday at UT's Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center. With the loss, Tennessee's record drops to 3-2 (0-0 SEC).
"This match was almost identical to the Virginia match (which UT lost 4-3 Jan. 31)," Tennessee head coach Michael Fancutt said. "We won the doubles point, Simon Rea played fantastic and beat one of the top players in the country and we won again at No. 6 singles. We just have a hole in the middle of our lineup at the moment, and if you lose at Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 like we have the last two matches, it's disappointing. But we just need some of these younger guys to hold their head up and be one of the top players."
As it has done all season, Tennessee captured the always-important doubles point, sweeping all three contests against the Tribe. The Vol team of Wade Orr and Mark Dietrich struck first for UT when they posted an 8-4 win at the No. 3 position. Damien Spizzo and Ockie Oosthuizen then gave Tennessee a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard by downing Jeff Kader and Steven Kane at the No. 2 spot. Vols Simon Rea and Ben Rogers also added a victory at the No. 1 position.
For the second time in as many matches, Rea initiated UT's singles scoring by defeating a top-20 opponent. Tribe junior Jeff Kader, ranked No. 26 in the country, arrived on Rocky Top having already defeated six ranked foes this season. Rea however, backed up his reputation as one of the nation's most dangerous players by dispatching Kader 6-4, 6-4.
William & Mary then rattled off three straight wins to take a 3-2 match lead. Kane got the Tribe's momentum rolling with a 7-6(5), 6-3 win over Orr at No. 3 singles. Sean Kelleher then held off Spizzo's comeback effort at No. 2, and Geoff Russell used consecutive tiebreaker wins to defeat Vol freshman Ockie Oosthuizen at the No. 4 slot.
Needing wins in each of the remaining two matches, Tennessee placed its hopes on the shoulders of two freshmen, Kiril Tcherveniachki and Ben Rogers. The rookie roommates battled valiantly, fueled by the support of their teammates and a vocal crowd.
Despite falling behind by a break early in the first set, Rogers rallied to deliver a 7-5, 6-4 victory, knotting the team score at 3-3.
Tcherveniachki dropped the first set of his match to Stephen Ward at the No. 5 spot 6-4. The New Zealand native then evened things up with a 6-4 win of his own in the second set. Ward proved too strong in the deciding stanza, however, as he reestablished his momentum and posted a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory to clinch the road win for William & Mary.
With Saturday's loss, Tennessee now owns a 4-1 record in the all-time series with William & Mary, dating to 1971. The Tribe's record this season improves to 4-4 (0-0 CAA).
The Vol netters close out Saturday's doubleheader when they take on ETSU at 4 p.m.