May 12, 2007

The Tennessee men's tennis team fell to second-ranked Ohio State 4-1 Saturday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA tournament played at Stickney Tennis Center in Columbus, Ohio. The Vols finish the season 17-8.

"Days like today show you how much this team is proud to represent Tennessee," head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "They gave everything they had in pursuit of victory. (Associate head coach) Chris (Woodruff) and I are humbled by their effort. We had the No. 2 team in the country in a fight; it was going to be a 4-3 match. To Ohio State's credit they handled the pressure like a great team does and we came up just a tiny bit short today.

The Buckeyes (29-1) got off to a fast start in doubles winning at the two and three positions to capture the point. Drew Eberly and Justin Kronauge defeated UT's Adam Hubble and Ben Rogers 8-3 at the No. 2 slot. The loss marked only the second time in 14 matches this season that the Vol duo lost at the No. 2 position. Bryan Koniecko and Steven Moneke clinched the point with an 8-4 win over Bo Hardegree and Davey Sandgren.

Ohio State sprinted out to a 3-0 lead early in the singles competition after Kronauge defeated Kiril Tcherveniachki 6-2, 6-2 at the No. 4 position and Devin Mullings defeated Sandgren 6-1, 6-2 at the No. 3 position.

The Vols got on the board when Kaden Hensel defeated Koniecko 7-6, 6-4 at the No. 1 position. Hensel finishes the season 12-5 at the No. 1 position in the lineup.

At this point in the match, UT found themselves down 3-1 in the match but with Ben Rogers and Chris Racz winning their matches at the No. 5 and 6 positions respectively, all eyes fell on the match on court No. 2 between OSU's Moneke and UT's Bobby Cameron.

Moneke, ranked sixth in singles, captured the first set 6-2 and was leading in the second set 4-1 when Hensel won his match. Cameron battled back though to tie the second set at five games apiece and put the pressure squarely on the back of the nation's No. 6 ranked player. Moneke, though, was the nation's top-ranked singles player earlier this season and the Buckeye sophomore rebounded to take the final two games of the set, winning the match and sending Ohio State to the round of 16. The Buckeyes advance to play in the NCAA Championships. The round of 16 begins May 17 at Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Center.

This match marked the end of the UT career for Kiril Tcherveniachki. The senior from Auckland, New Zealand had a splendid senior season finishing the year with a 22-9 singles record. For his career, Tcherveniachki finished with 62 singles victories, 45 coming in dual-match play. Although he did not play, Saturday also marked the final Tennessee match for Johnny Thornton. The Chattanooga native carved out a role for himself in UT's doubles lineup appearing in six dual matches this season. Rogers also participated in his final team-match against Ohio State but the Kingsport native still has some collegiate tennis left to play as he and Hubble were one of 32 doubles teams invited to the NCAA doubles championships.

"I'm extremely proud of our seniors," Winterbotham said. "Ben, Kiril and Johnny gave the program everything they had. They will always be Tennessee Volunteers and they were an inspiration to the rest of the team this year.

Cameron and Hensel will participate in the NCAA singles championship starting on May 23 in Athens, Ga., at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Cameron and Hensel will also participate in the doubles championship in Athens along with Hubble and Rogers.

"Everybody associated with the University of Tennessee should be extremely proud of the guys and the way they played today and the season they had," Winterbotham said.

"This team put Tennessee tennis back on the map, where it should be.

No. 2 Ohio State 4, No. 25 Tennessee 1
1. No. 17 Kaden Hensel (UT) def. No. 20 Bryan Koniecko (OSU) 7-6, 6-4
2. No. 6 Steven Moneke (OSU) def. No. 46 Bobby Cameron (UT) 6-2, 7-5
3. No. 27 Devin Mullings (OSU) def. No. 106 Davey Sandgren (UT) 6-1, 6-2
4. Justin Kronauge (OSU) def. Kiril Tcherveniachki (UT) 6-2, 6-2
5. Ben Rogers (UT) led Chris Klingemann (OSU) 6-4, 6-5
6. Chris Racz (UT) led Drew Eberly (OSU) 6-4, 5-4
Order of Finish: 4,3,1,2
1. No. 17 Cameron/Hensel (UT) led No. 11 Klingemann/Mullings (OSU) 6-2
2. No. 48 Eberly/Kronauge (OSU) def. No. 29 Hubble/Rogers (UT) 8-3
3. Koniecko/Moneke (OSU) def. Hardegree/Sandgren (UT) 8-4
Order of Finish: 2,3





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