April 15, 2006

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The Tennessee men's tennis team was up for the challenge Saturday against undefeated and top-ranked Georgia but the Bulldogs proved to be too tough pulling away for a 5-2 victory on a beautiful day at the UT Outdoor Varsity Courts.

"We competed quiet hard today, we just got beat by a better team," men's head coach Chris Mahony said. "Having said that we did have some opportunities. I feel good about the way the guys played but disappointed that we didn't take advantage of some of those opportunities."

Georgia (22-0, 11-0 SEC) has been very tough in doubles this season having only dropped the point once. The Volunteers battled hard but could not get a victory as Georgia swept the doubles matches. UGA's No. 1 duo of John Isner and Antonio Ruiz, ranked 12th, defeated Adam Hubble and Ben Rogers 8-1. Georgia's highest ranked doubles tandem of Strahinja Bobusic and Colin Purcell, ranked 10th, came-from-behind to defeat David Baxendine and Johnny Thornton 8-5 at the No. 3 position to clinch the point. Luis Flores and Matic Omerzel, ranked 23rd completed the sweep by outlasting Bobby Cameron and Kaden Hensel 9-8 at No. 2.

The match was tight as the first sets ended in singles play. Both teams had captured the first set in three matches with three of the six matches needing a tiebreaker. But Georgia's lineup consists of five upperclassmen to just two for Tennessee and as it has so many times this season experience edged out Tennessee's youth.

Freshman Derek Stephens tied the match at one with a 6-2, 6-2 straight-set victory over Joshua Varela. The UT freshman is now 15-4 this season; his 15 victories tie him with Bobby Cameron for the team-high.

Rogers had UT's other singles victory on the day defeating Bobusic in three-sets 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. Bobusic, ranked 50th in the Fila Singles Rankings, was the first ranked player Rogers has faced all season. With the win, Rogers finished the SEC regular-season with a 5-4 mark in SEC competition, he had only one SEC regular-season win coming into this season.

The Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead when Purcell defeated Baxendine 7-6, 6-4. Baxendine, UT's lone senior in the singles lineup, was playing in his final home match.

Isner extended Georgia's lead with a 7-6, 7-6 victory over Hensel at the No. 2 position. Hensel has played very well in the past three matches despite only having one victory to show for it. The UT sophomore has played three ranked consecutive ranked opponents, defeating Ivan Bjelica of Mississippi State who was ranked 81st, garnering a no-decision against Eric Claesson of Ole Miss who was ranked 27th, and losing Saturday to Isner, who is ranked 2nd in the nation.

Flores clinched the win for Georgia by defeating Cameron in three-sets at the No. 1 position. Cameron after dropping the first set battled back to capture the second but he could not sustain his momentum as Flores took control of the third set and won the match 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

Ruiz finished the match by defeating Kiril Tcherveniachki 6-7, 7-5, 6-1 at the No. 3 slot.

"I told the guys to keep their heads up. I know that they are disappointed that we didn't get the win but there are a lot of things to take out of this match that we need to carryover to the SEC tournament," Mahony said.

Tennessee (9-10, 3-8 SEC) travels to Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Tuesday for the SEC Tournament. The tournament is scheduled to begin on Thursday. The Vols will learn their seed and opponent on Saturday night. Live match updates on all UT matches at the SEC tournament can be found at UTsports.com.

No. 1 Georgia 5, No. 49 Tennessee 2
1. No. 23 Luis Flores (UGA) def. Bobby Cameron (UT) 6-3, 3-6, 6-2*
2. No. 2 John Isner (UGA) def. Kaden Hensel (UT) 7-6, 7-6
3. Antonio Ruiz (UGA) def. Kiril Tcherveniachki (UT) 6-7, 7-5, 6-1
4. Colin Purcell (UGA) def. David Baxendine (UT) 7-6, 6-4
5. Ben Rogers (UT) def. No. 50 Strahinja Bobusic (UGA) 6-4, 2-6, 6-3
6. Derek Stephens (UT) def. Joshua Varela (UGA) 6-2, 6-2
Order of Finish: 6,4,2,1*,5,3
1. No. 12 Isner/Ruiz (UGA) def. No. 29 Hubble/Rogers (UT) 8-1
2. No. 23 Flores/Omerzel (UGA) def. Cameron/Hensel (UT) 9-8
3. No. 10 Bobusic/Purcell (UGA) def. Baxendine/Thornton (UT) 8-5
Order of Finish: 1,3,2





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