March 7, 2004
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Tennessee's men's tennis team came up short in its effort to upset No. 12-ranked LSU Sunday, losing 4-3 at W.T. Robinson Stadium. The No. 39-ranked Volunteers fell to 6-3 (1-1 SEC) with the loss, while LSU improved to 8-1 (1-1 SEC).
"The highlights of the match today included a great fighting performance from Damien Spizzo," Tennessee head coach Michael Fancutt said after the loss. "It's good to see him turning it around after struggling a bit at the beginning of the season. We also had some good, solid performances by Wade Orr and Kiril Tcherveniachki.
"We lost the doubles point again today. Just when you think you have a great doubles lineup, you lose the next two doubles points. That shows that our doubles lineup is still a work in progress."
After suffering a loss to No. 21-ranked Georgia in its conference opener Friday, LSU stormed out of the gates for the doubles portion of Sunday's contest. And by virtue of wins at the Nos. 1 and 2 positions, the Tigers claimed the doubles point to take an early 1-0 match lead over the visiting Vols.
Tennessee avoided the doubles sweep, however, as Mark Dietrich and Wade Orr defeated LSU's No. 21-ranked duo of Danny Bryan and Cory Ross at the No. 3 spot. The Vol pairing's upset-victory snapped a seven-match winning streak for Bryan and Ross, and also marked the first time all season that LSU has lost at the No. 3 doubles position.
As singles competition progressed, Orr evened the match at 1-1 by edging LSU freshman Bryan in straight sets at the No. 6 position. But the Tigers answered back as senior Ross ousted Dietrich 6-4, 7-5 at No. 5 singles.
At the No. 1 spot, Tennessee's top player, No. 37-ranked Simon Rea, lost a three-set battle to No. 87-ranked Ken Skupski. Moments later, Volunteers freshman Kiril Tcherveniachki netted his ninth singles win of the season by toppling LSU senior Sebastian Rutka 6-3, 6-3.
With LSU holding a 3-2 advantage on the scoreboard, Tennessee needed victories from freshman Ockie Oosthuizen and junior Damien Spizzo at the Nos. 2 and 3 positions, respectively. Both players split sets and were in the midst of tightly contested deciding stanzas.
Spizzo tied the engagement at 3-3 by finishing off Tigers junior Jason Hazley for the second time in three months. The hard-hitting Australian native also defeated Hazley at the SEC Men's Coaches' Indoor Championships in January.
The deciding match pitted No. 94-ranked Oosthuizen against LSU veteran Peter Richman at the No. 2 spot. Oosthuizen fell behind by a service break early in the third set, and was unable to recover as Richman posted a 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 match-clinching win for the Tigers.
The Vols return to action Saturday at noon when they visit The Citadel (5-3, 3-0 SoCON) in Charleston, S.C. Tennessee graduate and former Volunteers standout Adam Carey (1999-2002) was named assistant men's tennis coach at The Citadel in January.
No. 12 LSU 4, No. 39 Tennessee 3
1) No. 13 Fisher/Hazley (LSU) def. Rea/Spizzo (UT), 8-6
2) Richman/Skupski (LSU) def. Oosthuizen/Rogers (UT), 8-4
3) Dietrich/Orr (UT) def. No. 21 Bryan/Ross (LSU), 8-6
Order of finish: 2, 1, 3
1) No. 87 Ken Skupski (LSU) def. No. 37 Simon Rea (UT), 6-4, 2-6, 6-3
2) Peter Richman (LSU) def. No. 94 Ockie Oosthuizen (UT), 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
3) Damien Spizzo (UT) def. Jason Hazley (LSU), 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
4) Kiril Tcherveniachki (UT) def. Sebastian Rutka (LSU), 6-3, 6-3
5) Cory Ross (LSU) def. Mark Dietrich (UT), 6-4, 7-5
6) Wade Orr (UT) def. Danny Bryan (LSU), 6-2, 6-4
Order of finish: 6, 5, 1, 4, 3, 2*
* Clinching point