March 28, 2003
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee's men's tennis team saw its two-match win streak come to an end Friday as the Vols fell to No. 46 Mississippi State 6-1 at UT's Varsity Courts. The hard-fought contest was closer than the score would indicate, evidenced by a total of seven tiebreakers in singles competition.
With the loss, Tennessee moves to 9-7 (2-5 SEC), while Mississippi State improved its record to 6-9 (2-5 SEC).
"Mississippi State had some players that had been hurt and they've had their problems this year," Tennessee head coach Michael Fancutt said. "But their team is healthy now and they played a very good match against us."
The Bulldogs opened the match by taking two of the three doubles contests, thus capturing the doubles point to take a 1-0 match lead.
Neither team seemed able to take an early advantage in singles, as the players fought neck-and-neck on each court. In a somewhat astounding-yet-bizarre occurence, four first-set tiebreakers took place simultaneously at one point in the match. Another first-set tiebreaker was added moments later, with Mississippi State emerging victorious in three of the five.
Those performances lit a fire under the Bulldog netters, and second-year head coach Sylvain Guichard eventually saw his team rattle off three straight singles wins to clinch its second SEC victory of the season.
The Volunteers finally tallied a singles victory thanks to freshman Rawl Martin's solid performance at the No. 6 spot. The win marked the second straight conference win for the young Memphis native.
Mississippi State then proceeded to add wins at Nos. 1 and 4 singles, placing an exclamation point on the 6-1 victory.
The Vols return to action at the Varsity Courts Sunday when they face one of the nation's hottest teams, Ole Miss (12-3, 4-2 SEC), at 1 p.m. Currently listed at No. 5 in the ITA national team rankings, the Rebels will be the highest-ranked opponent Tennessee has faced thus far in 2003. Ole Miss boasts three of the nation's top-30 collegiate singles players.
Admission to Sunday's contest is free and fans are encouraged to attend. As with all Tennessee home matches, live Internet scoring will be available at www.UTsports.com.