March 14, 2003
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee lost a close dual match to No. 20 LSU by a score of 4-3 Friday at UT's Varsity Courts. The two teams split the singles portion of the match, but it was LSU's ability to capture the vital doubles point that proved to be the difference-maker.
With the loss, Tennessee's record moves to 7-6 (1-3 SEC). LSU, meanwhile, improves to 8-4 (2-3 SEC).
"It was a day of ups and downs," Tennessee head coach Michael Fancutt said. "We had three good wins in singles and a good win with our [freshmen] No. 3 doubles team. But I felt it was a disappointing overall 4-3 loss."
Tennessee, who moved up one spot to No. 26 in the updated ITA national rankings on Wednesday, fell behind early as the Tigers won at Nos. 1 and 2 doubles to take the doubles point and 1-0 match lead. For the first time this season, the Vol tandem of Mark Dietrich and Wade Orr was defeated at the No. 1 slot. The loss snapped a four-match winning streak for the Vols' top pairing.
In singles play, the Vol netters' highest-ranked player, No. 31 Simon Rea, won his 20th singles contest of the season as he routed LSU's Jason Hazley 6-2, 6-3 at the No. 1 position. Rea's overall season singles record now sits at a team-best 20-6.
Tennessee sophomore Mark Dietrich, the reigning SEC Player of the Week, continued to prove himself worthy of that distinction with a big win at No. 2 singles. The Memphis native won his third consecutive three-set contest by upsetting the nation's No. 51-ranked netter, Peter Richman, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
The Vols' only other point came from freshman Vincent Perna, who won for the first time in his career at the No. 3 singles position.
LSU's strength at the bottom of the lineup was enough to put them over the top, however. The Tigers won at the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 singles positions, with Paul White's victory over Rawl Martin in the No. 6 match serving as the clincher.
Tennessee will now have one day of rest before returning to the Varsity Courts to take on No. 18 Arkansas Sunday. The match will begin at 1 p.m. and admission is free.