March 21, 2004
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Tennessee's No. 27-ranked men's tennis team defeated No. 29-ranked Mississippi State 4-3 Sunday afternoon at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. Using a strong singles attack, Tennessee (9-4, 2-2 SEC) notched its second SEC road victory of the season and equaled its win total from a year ago.
"It's great to finish up a long streak of six road matches with a victory," Tennessee head coach Michael Fancutt said. "We're looking forward to finally playing some tennis in Knoxville again. Congratulations to Damien Spizzo for winning the clincher [Sunday] versus Mississippi State, and we had another good doubles win by Ockie Oosthuizen and Ben Rogers. They've had two straight 8-1 wins, and that's impressive in the SEC where there's such a high-standard of tennis being played."
The freshmen duo of Oosthuizen and Rogers defeated MSU's Matt Armstrong and Max Fomine at the No. 3 position to start the doubles scoring Sunday. The Bulldogs' No. 2 doubles team of Romain Ambert and Florent Girod then battled back from a 5-0, three service-break deficit against the No. 47-ranked UT team of Mark Dietrich and Wade Orr to claim a 9-7 win.
With the doubles point up for grabs, Mississippi State's tandem of Luiz Carvalho and Jose-Carlos Pinto toppled Tennessee's Simon Rea and Spizzo in a tiebreaker at the No. 1 spot, giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead entering singles play.
What the Bulldogs lacked however, was the services of their top player, No. 13-ranked senior Ambert. After competing in doubles, Ambert withdrew from singles competition due to a lingering ankle injury.
Tennessee jumped out to a one-set lead on five of six courts and posted three consecutive straight-set wins to take a 3-1 team-score lead. At the No. 5 position, Dietrich rebounded from a singles loss Friday and put the Volunteers on the scoreboard with a quick 6-4, 6-2 ousting of MSU's Arnoud Roussel. Orr, the nation's No. 79-ranked singles player, then disposed of Bulldog freshman Romain Provenzano 6-3, 6-2 at the No. 6 spot. Tennessee's third point came when Oosthuizen finished off Fomine by a score of 6-1, 6-4.
Bulldog sophomore Pinto, playing his first match of the season at the No. 1 singles spot, upset Rea 7-6(4), 6-1. The win marked the highest-ranked opponent Pinto has ever defeated, and it also marked the first time this spring that Rea has lost back-to-back singles matches.
With the Vols leading 3-2, Spizzo tilted the scales in Tennessee's favor with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Carvalho at the No. 2 spot. It marked Spizzo's second clinching point of the year.
MSU added its second singles win of the day when Girod outlasted Vol freshman Kiril Tcherveniachki in three sets at No. 4 singles.
After competing elsewhere for more than a month, Tennessee returns home to play host to a pair of SEC foes this weekend. The Vols battle South Carolina (11-6, 0-4 SEC) in a rare night match at UT's Varsity Courts Friday at 5 p.m., and Florida (10-3, 3-1 SEC) visits Rocky Top for a 1 p.m. dual match Sunday.
No. 27 Tennessee 4, No. 29 Mississippi State 3
1) Carvalho/Pinto (MSU) def. Rea/Spizzo (UT), 9-8(6)
2) Ambert/Girod (MSU) def. Dietrich/Orr (UT), 9-7
3) Oosthuizen/Ben Rogers (UT) def. Matt Armstrong/Fomine (MSU), 8-1
Order of finish: 3, 2, 1
1) Jose-Carlos Pinto (MSU) def. No. 42 Simon Rea (UT), 7-6(4), 6-1
2) Damien Spizzo (UT) def. Luiz Carvalho (MSU), 6-4, 7-5*
3) Ockie Oosthuizen (UT) def. Max Fomine (MSU), 6-1, 6-4
4) Florent Girod (MSU) def. Kiril Tcherveniachki (UT), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3
5) Mark Dietrich (UT) def. Arnoud Roussel (MSU), 6-4, 6-2
6) No. 79 Wade Orr (UT) def. Romain Provenzano (MSU), 6-3, 6-2
Order of finish: 5, 6, 3, 1, 2*, 4
* Clinching point