"For most of the team, this was their first taste of SEC tennis on the road," Tennessee head coach Michael Fancutt said. "To lose the doubles point, and be struggling with the hot and windy match conditions, it showed a lot of heart to come back and clinch the overall team victory."
After winning the doubles point in each of its previous seven dual matches this season, Tennessee (6-2, 1-0 SEC) let the early tally slip away Friday. The Vols team of Mark Dietrich and Wade Orr won a 9-7 decision over Rohan Gajjar and Adrians Zguns at the No. 3 position, but Arkansas (6-2, 0-1 SEC) then claimed wins at the Nos. 1 and 2 spots to take a 1-0 match lead heading into singles competition.
Tennessee's Simon Rea defeated No. 76-ranked Nathan Price 6-1, 6-4 at the No. 1 slot to put the Volunteers on the scoreboard. The win marked Rea's 30th career singles win over an SEC opponent and his 15th career victory over a ranked player. The No. 37-ranked Vols senior has won 10 of his last 12 singles matches.
Damien Spizzo then topped Razorback freshman Matt Simpson 6-1, 6-4 at the No. 3 position. With the victory, Spizzo snapped a four-match singles losing streak.
Vol freshman Ockie Oosthuizen, who is ranked No. 94 in the country, lost to No. 12-ranked Zguns at the No. 2 spot to bring the team score to 2-2.
Needing two more wins to escape Fayetteville with a victory, Tennessee received clutch performances from upperclassmen Dietrich and Orr. Dietrich edged Razorback sophomore Matt Roberts in three sets to give UT a 3-2 advantage, and Orr rallied from a one-set deficit to beat Arkansas junior Imraan Ismail 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to clinch the Volunteers victory.
"All credit must go to the junior and senior members of the team, who pulled us through in the tough conditions," Fancutt said. "Simon Rea led by example, winning his No. 1 singles match to even the score at 1-1. It was also a great effort by Wade Orr, who came back to win after being down a set and 4-2. Although I believe this is one of the best freshman classes we've ever had, today the upperclassmen pulled us through for a tough SEC road win."
With Friday's win, Tennessee now holds a 14-10 advantage in the all-time series with Arkansas, dating to 1973.
The Vols travel to Baton Rouge, La., to face No. 10-Ranked LSU Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
No. 39 Tennessee 4, No. 25 Arkansas 3
1) Price/Simpson (UA) def. Rea/Spizzo (UT), 9-8(2)
2) Ismail/Roberts (UA) def. Oosthuizen/Rogers (UT), 9-7
3) Orr/Dietrich (UT) def. Gajjar/Zguns (UA), 9-7
Order of finish: 3, 1, 2
1) No. 37 Simon Rea (UT) def. No. 76 Nathan Price (UA), 6-1, 6-4
2) No. 12 Adrians Zguns (UA) def. No. 94 Ockie Oosthuizen (UT), 6-2, 6-0
3) Damien Spizzo (UT) def. Matt Simpson (UA), 6-1, 6-4
4) Rohan Gajjar (UA) def. Kiril Tcherveniachki (UT), 3-6, 6-4, 7-5
5) Mark Dietrich (UT) def. Matt Roberts (UA), 7-6(5), 1-6, 6-2
6) Wade Orr (UT) def. Imraan Ismail (UA), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Order of finish: 1, 3, 2, 5, 6*, 4
* Clinching point