April 6, 2003
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- In a match that was delayed by rain and then moved indoors, Tennessee's men's tennis team lost to No. 20 South Carolina 4-2 Sunday at the Sam Daniel Tennis Center. The Vols' fourth consecutive loss brings their record to 9-10 (2-8 SEC), moving the program below the .500 mark for the first time since January 1997.
As it has all season long, the top of the Volunteers' singles lineup played strong and delivered victories, with Rea continuing his dominance at the No. 1 position and Dietrich coming through at the No. 2 spot.
Rea, currently ranked No. 33 in the nation, dispatched No. 67-ranked Seth Rose in straight sets. The win was Rea's third straight, improving his already outstanding season singles record to a team-best 25-7. The New Zealand native has led by example all season long, and has drawn praise from his coaches for his tremendous focus and dedicated work ethic.
Another clutch performer for the Vols this season has been sophomore Mark Dietrich. Dietrich has made somewhat of a habit of taking part in marathon matches lately, as eight of his last 11 singles contests have gone to three sets. Sunday's win marked the second time in the past week that he has recorded an upset singles victory.
Despite the efforts of Tennessee's top-two performers, the Gamecocks (16-4, 5-4 SEC) were able to defeat the Vols for the first time since the 1999 season. South Carolina got wins at Nos. 3 through 5 singles, in addition to the doubles point, giving the team it's 10th consecutive home victory.
Tennessee added one win during doubles competition, as Dietrich and partner Wade Orr defeated the Gamecocks' top duo at the No. 1 slot.
In its final dual match of the season, Tennessee faces SEC Eastern Division rival Georgia in Athens, Ga., Saturday, April 12. The Bulldogs (7-13, 3-7 SEC) are currently ranked No. 18 in the nation and have lost three straight matches.