March 26, 2004
KNOXVILLE -- The No. 21-ranked Tennessee men's tennis team was defeated by South Carolina 4-3 Friday evening at UT's Varsity Courts. The Gamecocks won four of six singles contests to post their first Southeastern Conference win of the season. Tennessee drops to 9-5 (2-3 SEC) with the loss.
"It was a disappointing loss," UT head coach Michael Fancutt said. "Our doubles play was the highlight of the day, and Simon Rea and Mark Dietrich are starting to exhibit the singles form with which they dominated last year."
The Volunteers exhibited solid doubles play to start the day. The No. 41-ranked Vols doubles team of Rea and Damien Spizzo defeated Geraldo Knorr and Pedro Rodrigues at the No. 1 position 8-3. Shortly thereafter, UT's Dietrich and Wade Orr notched an 8-5 win over Tom Ecklund and Marcus Westman at the No. 2 spot to clinch the doubles point for Tennessee.
Singles competition began under warm, sunny conditions. Dietrich put on a dominating performance at No. 5 singles, ousting South Carolina junior Ben Atkinson 6-2, 6-3 to put the Vols up 2-0.
Ecklund then put the Gamecocks on the scoreboard by beating Spizzo 6-3, 6-4 at the No. 2 spot.
Rea answered back for UT and extended the Tennessee lead to 3-1 when he edged Westman at No. 1 singles by a score of 6-1, 6-4. With the win, Rea snapped a two-match singles losing streak.
What appeared to be an imminent Tennessee victory soon became a nail biter for the contingent of Vol faithful in attendance as the Gamecocks began gaining momentum in each of the four remaining singles contests. Rodrigues upset No. 88-ranked Orr in three sets at the No. 6 position, and USC senior Carl Wermee toppled Tennessee freshman Ockie Oosthuizen at No. 3.
With the team score tied at 3-3, UT freshman Kiril Tcherveniachki and USC's Knorr were immersed in a battle at the No. 4 position to clinch the victory for their respective teams. After convincingly winning the second set 6-0, Knorr used the momentum to build a lead in the deciding stanza. Tcherveniachki was unable to regain lost ground, and Knorr posted a 6-7, 6-0, 6-3 win to give the Gamecocks a much-needed team victory. South Carolina now stands at 12-6 (1-4 SEC) on the year.
The Vols are back in action Sunday at 1 p.m. to face No. 9-ranked Florida (10-5, 3-2 SEC) at UT's Varsity Courts. Tennessee owns a 1-0 home record against top-10 opponents this season, with the lone win coming against then-No. 6-ranked Duke Feb. 20.
Admission to Sunday's match is free, and live online scoring will be available at www.UTsports.com.
South Carolina 4, No. 21 Tennessee 3
1) No. 41 Rea/Spizzo (UT) def. Knorr/Rodrigues (USC), 8-3
2) Dietrich/Orr (UT) def. Ecklund/Westman (USC), 8-5
3) Oosthuizen/Rogers (UT) def. Atkinson/Wermee (USC), susp. (UT leading 6-5)
Order of finish: 1, 2
1) No. 45 Simon Rea (UT) def. Marcus Westman (USC), 6-1, 6-4
2) Tom Ecklund (USC) def. Damien Spizzo (UT), 6-3, 6-4
3) Carl Wermee (USC) def. Ockie Oosthuizen (UT), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2
4) Geraldo Knorr (USC) def. Kiril Tcherveniachki (UT), 6-7, 6-0, 6-3*
5) Mark Dietrich (UT) def. Ben Atkinson (USC), 6-2, 6-3
6) Pedro Rodrigues (USC) def. No. 88 Wade Orr (UT), 6-1, 5-7, 6-2
Order of finish: 5, 2, 1, 6, 3, 4*
* Clinching point