April 2, 2004
KNOXVILLE - In perhaps its most intense match of the season to date, Tennessee defeated No. 20-ranked Vanderbilt 5-2 Friday. Senior Wade Orr and junior Mark Dietrich each recorded their 60th career singles win as the No. 17-ranked Volunteers (11-5, 4-3 SEC) came out victorious in a match that was delayed 40 minutes due to rain.
Tennessee senior Simon Rea, ranked No. 45, put together a gutsy 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-3 win over No. 52-ranked Commodore junior Scott Brown at No. 1 singles to post his fifth clinching point of the season. Rea's 15th singles victory of the year also marked his seventh this season over a ranked opponent.
"Right from the start of the year, we talked about getting better as individuals and as a team," UT head coach Michael Fancutt said. "Today we beat a great team. Vanderbilt was in the NCAA final last year, and indoors, I think they're one of the best teams in the country. For us to beat them 5-2 was a fantastic effort, and it just shows that we're getting better and better. Give us another couple of weeks, and at the end of the season I think we're going to be a fantastic team.
"Simon Rea is just a warrior out on the court. There is nobody I'd rather have serving for the match or in a tight situation other than him."
Shortly after the action began Friday, play was suspended during doubles competition after drizzly weather conditions made the courts too slick for play to continue safely. After the delay, competition resumed indoors at the four-court Goodfriend Tennis Center.
Prior to the delay, Vanderbilt had taken a 1-0 lead in doubles competition courtesy of Zach Dailey and Greg Sossaman's win at No. 2 doubles. But once play resumed indoors, Tennessee wasted little time establishing some momentum of its own. The Vols team of freshmen Ockie Oosthuizen and Ben Rogers evened things up by defeating Chad Harris and Matthew Lockin at the No. 3 spot.
Fueled by a vocal crowd of Big Orange supporters, Tennessee's Rea and junior Damien Spizzo held off Brown and Lewis Smith at No. 1 to clinch UT's 13th doubles point of the spring.
Harris dealt the first blow for Vanderbilt in singles play, posting a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Oosthuizen at the No. 2 position.
Dietrich then dominated No. 58-ranked Zach Dailey at the No. 4 spot to give the Vols a 2-1 lead. Dietrich has exhibited inspiring perseverance since suffering a broken right leg last September, posting an 8-2 singles record since his return on Feb. 20.
Orr, ranked No. 88, engineered a straight-set victory over Sossaman at the No. 6 position to put UT ahead 3-1 and set up Rea's clincher.
Tennessee freshman Kiril Tcherveniachki finished things off with a three-set win over Smith to improve his overall season singles record to 13-5.
"It was a fantastic team effort," Rea said after the match. "And while Damien and Ockie didn't have the results they would have liked to have had in singles, they played a huge part out there in the doubles. The four guys that won their singles matches, that was just amazing. We got some great senior leadership from Wade Orr, who came out and won 6-2, 6-0 in about 45 minutes to give everyone else a big boost."
With the win, Tennessee now holds a 47-9 advantage in the all-time series with Vanderbilt, dating to 1927.
Former Tennessee head coach Mike DePalmer Sr. (1981-94) was in attendance Friday. DePalmer led the Vols to 299 wins during his distinguished career and was inducted into the ITA Men's Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame in 1995.
The Vols play host to No. 22-ranked Kentucky Sunday at 1 p.m. UK head coach Dennis Emery eclipsed the 400 career-win plateau Wednesday, but the Wildcats lost at No. 10-ranked Georgia 4-3 Friday.