May 15, 2004
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Tennessee's men's tennis team made short work of Wichita State in the opening round of the NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championships Saturday. In their first NCAA action since the 2002 season, the No. 15-seeded Volunteers defeated the Shockers 4-1 at the UA Outdoor Tennis Complex.
Tennessee senior Simon Rea surrendered only three games during a convincing win at the No. 1 singles position, which clinched the match for the Vols and brought an end to Wichita State's nine-match winning streak.
"Wichita State fought hard and gave us a tough match," UT head coach Michael Fancutt said. "That sort of match was the kind of preparation we needed after a three-week break to prepare us for the next round. We got some really good singles performances from Simon (Rea), Kiril (Tcherveniachki) and Ben Rogers."
With the victory, Tennessee's 14th of the season, the Vols advance to Sunday's regional final, where they face host Arkansas. Sunday's final takes place at 2 p.m. ET.
"Today was as good a start as we could have hoped for against a Wichita State team that played hard against us," Rea said. "If our team can take care of business [Sunday], we will be in position to achieve our major goal for the year, which is to advance deep into the NCAA tournament."
The Vols exhibited impressive dominance in their doubles play during the regular season, and that success has apparently carried over into their postseason exploits. Doubles wins by UT's freshmen tandem of Ockie Oosthuizen and Ben Rogers and the upperclassmen duo of Mark Dietrich and Wade Orr, at the Nos. 2 and 3 positions, respectively, gave Tennessee a 1-0 lead heading into singles play.
Freshman Kiril Tcherveniachki, playing out of the No. 3 spot, scored the first singles win of the day when he edged Shockers sophomore Marko Despot 6-3, 6-0.
Wichita State freshman Gabriel Loredo prevented a Big Orange shutout by beating Vols junior Damien Spizzo 6-4, 6-2 at the No. 4 spot. But Rogers then ousted WSU's Juan Escalante at the No. 6 position to set up Rea's clincher.
"You always have some jitters in matches like these," Rogers, a native of Kingsport, said. "It was good for us to come out on fire and get that first point (in doubles). We all looked up to the seniors and treated this match like it was the NCAA finals. I'm glad everybody came out and fought hard and we came away with the win."
Saturday's victory evened the all-time series between UT and WSU at 2-2, dating to 1981. A Tennessee win Sunday would give the Vols a berth in the round of 16, which begins May 22 at the University of Tulsa's Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla.
No. 18/15th seed Tennessee 4, Wichita State 1
1) No. 9 Rea/Spizzo (UT) led Escalante/Loredo (WSU), 7-5, susp.
2) Oosthuizen/Rogers (UT) def. Gubic/Vujaklija (WSU), 8-4
3) Dietrich/Orr (UT) def. Contente/Despot (WSU), 8-4
Order of finish: 3, 2
1) No. 34 Simon Rea (UT) def. Carlo Contente (WSU), 6-1, 6-2*
2) Ockie Oosthuizen (UT) led Goran Vujaklija (WSU), 7-5, 2-0, susp.
3) Kiril Tcherveniachki (UT) def. Marko Despot (WSU), 6-3, 6-0
4) Gabriel Loredo (WSU) def. Damien Spizzo (UT), 6-4, 6-2
5) Boris Gubic (WSU) led No. 116 Wade Orr (UT), 6-4, 3-3, susp.
6) Ben Rogers (UT) def. Juan Escalante (WSU), 6-3, 6-1
Order of finish: 3, 4, 6, 1*
* Clinching point