March 28, 2004
KNOXVILLE - The No. 21-ranked Tennessee men's tennis team posted a 5-2 upset victory over No. 9-ranked Florida Sunday afternoon at UT's Varsity Courts. The Volunteers (10-5, 3-3 SEC) are now 2-0 at home this season against top-10 opponents.
"I really have just one comment today and that is: Tennessee beating Florida," UT head coach Michael Fancutt said. "That is pretty sweet to me and everyone else around here."
Both Tennessee and Florida were coming off Friday losses to South Carolina and Georgia, respectively. The Vols rebounded from their home setback by continuing to exhibit their fine doubles form against the Gators. At one point Sunday, Tennessee was up by at least one service break on each of the three doubles courts.
The UT team of Ockie Oosthuizen and Ben Rogers was the first tandem to find paydirt, posting an 8-6 win over UF's Janne Holmia and Martin Stiegwardt at the No. 3 position. The Vol freshmen have now gone four straight matches without a loss.
Less than five minutes later, UT's veteran duo of Mark Dietrich and Wade Orr sent the assembled crowd of Big Orange faithful into a frenzy by defeating Trey Johnson and Vlad Obradovic at the No. 2 spot, clinching the doubles point and putting the Vols up 1-0 heading into singles play.
The Vols now own an overall spring doubles record of 31-11 and have won the doubles point in 12 of 15 dual matches.
Tennessee players took one-set leads in five of the six singles matches, but the Gators claimed the first singles point of the afternoon when No. 39-ranked Holmia downed Spizzo 6-4, 6-2 at No. 2 singles.
Stiegwardt entered the day boasting a perfect record when playing at the No. 5 singles position, but he saw that streak come to end against Dietrich, who notched a 6-2, 7-6 victory to give Tennessee a 2-1 lead.
The Vols' dependable senior leader Rea then notched his biggest singles win of the season, toppling No. 17-ranked Mirzadeh 6-4, 7-6(2). Rea, the No. 45-ranked singles player in the nation, has a team-best 14 singles wins this year, including six against ranked opponents.
Rea's countryman, New Zealander Kiril Tcherveniachki sealed the win for Tennessee by edging Florida sophomore Stefan Tell 7-6(6), 6-4 at the No. 4 spot. The Vol freshman ranks second on the team with 12 singles victories this season.
"I had two tough losses in the last two matches," Tcherveniachki said. "I just changed my routine and talked to coach Fancutt about what types of things I should be doing and my technique on the court. I've also been trying to control my emotions on the court.
"I actually didn't know I clinched the win when my match was over. I thought we still needed Ockie or Ben to win. I was just out there trying to get another point for the team. But after I won I just felt satisfaction that I finally got a win."
With the outcome no longer in question, Oosthuizen added a three-set win over No. 100-ranked Vladimir Obradovic, and Rogers dropped a three-set battle to Gator sophomore Ryan Sherry.
"Coach Fancutt just commented to us in the team meeting how impressed he was with us turning it around to beat a top-10 team after losing to South Carolina on Friday," Rea said shortly after the Vols left the courts. "[Our schedule] sure doesn't get any easier from here. We've got to continue to get better and get ready for Vanderbilt on Friday."
For Florida (10-5, 3-3 SEC), Sunday's loss marked the end of a disappointing week, as the Gators lost to top-ranked Illinois Tuesday and were then defeated at No. 12-ranked Georgia Friday.