April 21, 2002
KNOXVIILE -- Tennessee defeated Auburn 4-1 Sunday at UT's Varsity Tennis Center to earn the 2002 Southeastern Conference Men's Outdoor Tennis Tournament title.
Today's victory gave Tennessee's
its first SEC Tournament title since it last hosted the tournament in 1990.
The Vols capturedthe regular season title in 2000.
"After heartbreaking losses in last year's SEC and NCAA finals, it was good to see our team so determined not to lose today and throughout this championship," UT head coach Michael Fancutt said. "I have to give full credit to the seniors, who have been fantastic leaders throughout the season."
The doubles segment almost mirrored yesterday's clash between the Vols and Georgia, as Tennessee and Auburn split Nos. 1 and 2, before deciding the matter at No. 3. The Tigers would get on the board first , with an 8-4 win by No. 32-ranked Andrew Colombo and Mark Kovacks at No. 2, ending the Tennessee pair of Adam Carey and Peter Handoyo's undefeated streak at 10 straight. The Vols would come right back when their No. 17-ranked pair of Simon Rea and Mario Toledo ended a three match losing skid, with an 8-5 victory over No. 16-ranked Rameez Junaid and Tiago Ruffoni at No. 1. Just like the day before, the Tennessee pair of Mark Dietrich and Andy Crews were left on the court, with the task of giving the Vols a 1-0 lead in the match resting squarely on their racquets. And, just like yesterday, the scrappy pair came through, winning the No. 3 match and the doubles tally for the Vols with a 9-7 win over Auburn's Andre Boz and Estavam Strecker.
"Andy Crews has been fantastic
throughout this tournament," Fancutt said. "He has been a great injection to
the doubles lineup, since he has been in our regular lineup, we have won six
straight doubles points. That is just huge, especially when you are trying to
The Vols began the singles segment on fire, winning four of the six first sets with haste. The first Vol to score would be Rea, who ended a five-match losing streak in his win at No. 5 over Auburn's Mark Van Elden 6-1, 6-0.
"More than anything I just wanted to get a quick win to get us the momentum," Rea said. "I figured I would leave it up to the seniors to finish the job."
And the seniors did just that. Senior Peter Handoyo, who has been the Vols' most consistent performer this spring in posting a 22-2 record, defeated Auburn's No. 68-ranked Andrew Colombo 6-4, 6-0.
The Tigers got on the board when Mark Kovacks handed Tennessee freshman Mark Dietrich his first tournament loss in the No. 4 match 6-1, 7-6., but that's where the scoring would end for the Tigers, as Tennessee senior Adam Carey would put the finishing touches on the Vols' first SEC tournament title in 12 years and his seventh straight triumph overall in his win at No. 3 over Auburn's No. 53-ranked Tiago Ruffoni 6-3, 6-3.
For Carey, it was his second
clinching point in as many days, after capturing the exciting finisher over
Lesley Joseph in yesterday's 4-3 semifinal win over top-ranked Georgia. For
his exploits, Carey was named 2002 SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player by the
coaches. "This has been the greatest week of my life," Carey said. "To beat
the No. 1 team in the nation twice and win the SEC tournament title in front
of your home crowd is just incredible."
Tennessee is currently ranked No. 11 nationally, but should expect to move up the rankings following its three impressive wins this weekend. UT will wait for the NCAA Tournament selection show May 2, at 6:30 p.m. to find if it will host an NCAA Regional.
The Vols have hosted NCAA
regionals the past two seasons and should be a favorite to host again this year.
The regionals will be held May 11-12, while the NCAA Championship finals will
begin May 17 at Texas A&M.