April 22, 2005
The Tennessee men's tennis team overcame the rain and the South Carolina Gamecocks Friday to advance to the semifinals of the SEC tournament for the first time since 2002 with its 4-2 victory over USC.
"Today was an unbelivable college match," acting head coach Chris Mahony said." It was just an incredible battle that our guys did an incredible job of coming out on the winning side of."
Kiril Tcherveniachki once again was the hero for the Vols. Tcherveniachki inherited almost exactly the same situation he had against Alabama and once again he delivered. With his team leading 3-2, the UT sophomore stepped up with a big come-from-behind win over Geraldo Knorr 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.
Tennessee captured the doubles point for the second consecutive day. The Vols have been dominant in doubles during the SEC tournament and are now 5-0 in doubles matches during the tournament. UT's freshmen tandem of Bobby Cameron and Kaden Hensel blew past USC's Ben Atkinson and Dmitry Babenko 8-2 to get the Vols halfway to the doubles point. Mark Dietrich and Morgan Wilson clinched the doubles point with its win at No. 2 doubles over Jaime Cuellar and Tom Eklund 8-6.
Midway through the first set of singles action, the skies over Athens opened up and a 46-minute rain delay ensued. The match was resumed at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Courts and shortly after South Carolina would tie the score at one with a straight set win by Babenko over UT's Wilson.
Senior Mark Dietrich would put the Vols in front for good. Dietrich who had lost his previous five matches broke out of his slump by defeating Eklund 6-3, 6-4 at No. 1 singles. Cameron would give the Vols a 3-1 advantage with his win over Pedro Rodrigues 6-3, 6-4 at No. 2 singles. Both Cameron and Dietrich lost to the same opponents earlier this season when UT was defeated 6-1.
Ockie Oosthuizen and South Carolina's Cuellar battled to the very end at No. 3 singles. In the decisive third set Oosthuizen would jump out to a 3-1 lead but Cuellar would win four straight games to take a 5-3 lead. But Oosthuizen battled back to win the next two games to tie the set at five games apiece. Cuellar would win the final two games though to take the set and the match and help South Carolina close to within one of the Vols, 3-2.
"We're looking forward to playing Ole Miss tomorrow, we're going to come out swinging, we've got nothing to lose and we're going to give it our best shot." Mahony added.
The Vols will play regular season champion Ole Miss Saturday at 11 a.m. The Rebels handed UT its only home loss of the season 4-3 March 25. Live stats for the match will be available at UTsports.com.
No. 26 Tennessee 4 No. 18 South Carolina 2
1. No. 58 Mark Dietrich (UT) def. No. 32 Tom Eklund (SC) 6-3, 6-4
2. Bobby Cameron (UT) def. Pedro Rodrigues (SC) 6-3, 6-4
3. Jaime Cuellar (SC) def. Ockie Oosthuizen (UT) 7-6, 2-6, 7-5
4. Dmitry Babenko (SC) def. Morgan Wilson (UT) 6-4, 6-4
5. Kiril Tcherveniachki (UT) def. Geraldo Knorr (SC) 4-6, 6-3, 6-0
6. Ben Atkinson (SC) led Kaden Hensel (UT) 7-5, 6-6
Order of Finish: 4,1,2,3,5*
1. No. 11 Oosthuizen/Rogers (UT) tied No. 32 Knorr/Rodrigues (SC) 5-5
2. Dietrich/Wilson (UT) def. Cuellar/Eklund (SC) 8-6
3. Cameron/Hensel (UT) def. Atkinson/Babenko (SC) 8-2
Order of Finish: 3,2