May 20, 2002
COLLEGE STATION, Texas-- Eleventh-seed Southern California upset No. 2 seed Tennessee 4-3 Monday in the semifinals of the NCAA Men's Tennis Championships at Texas A&M Tennis Center.
The Trojans rallied to win four of the six singles matches after the Vols had taken the doubles point.
"I always felt that if we won the doubles point, there wasn't anyone in the country that could beat us," said UT head coach Michael Fancutt. "But, I guess today proved me wrong. We won the doubles point in a good, close match and they came back and won four of the six singles. This was a very tough loss. I really felt we were going to win, right up until the very end. But you have to give USC credit, they fought hard and they did what they needed to pull it out."
For the Trojans (24-5), a team on a mission for Head coach Dick Leach, who is retiring after this, his 23rd season, it was their third straight upset win since arriving in Texas, where they had previously beaten No. 6 Baylor and No. 3 Illinois before knocking off the No. 2 Vols.
The Vols began the match very well, having been extremely strong in the doubles segment, where they had not dropped the opening tally in their last 12 matches. However, the Vols have had a tough time nailing down the point in their last two matches, including today. The Vols began well today, getting a quick 8-3 win from Peter Handoyo and Adam Carey in the No. 2 match over USC's Teige Sullivan and Rueben Torres. The win was the Tennessee pair's 15th of the season, to go along with only a singles loss. The Trojans would come right back with an 8-6 win in the No. 3 match, with USC's Prakash Amitraj and Daniel Langre handing the Vol duo of Andy Crews and Mark Dietrich their second straight loss. The Vols would once again have enough left in the tank, as the No. 22-ranked tandem of Simon Rea and Mario Toledo upset USC's No. 9-ranked duo of Ryan Moore and Nick Rainey 8-6 in the No. 1 match to notch the early 1-0 lead for the Big Orange.
The singles segment would begin with USC tying the score at 1-1, when Rueben Torres downed Tennessee's Wade Orr 6-4, 6-4 in the No. 6 match. The Vols would fight back, as No. 7-ranked senior Peter Handoyo would win his 13th straight match in a 6-3, 6-1 victory over No. 30 Andrew Park at No. 1 to make it 2-1 Vols. Handoyo, who stands at 27-2 on the season, won every match he played in the SEC and NCAA tournaments, including eight straight wins over ranked opponents. Fellow senior Mario Toledo, who fell in his match versus Kentucky Sunday, bounced back Monday with a 7-5, 6-3 win over No. 87-ranked Ryan Moore in the No. 2 match to give the Vols a commanding 3-1 lead in the match.
The Trojans would come right back with a win in the No. 4 match, when No. 46-ranked Nick Rainey downed Tennessee's Mark Dietrich 7-5, 6-4 to cut the Volunteer lead to one.
It then came down to the No. 3 and No. 5 matches, where the Vols had "Mr. Clutch" Adam Carey, who had clinched all three matches in the SEC tournament, and sophomore Simon Rea, who has won numerous big matches for the Vols all year including clinching Saturday's round of 16 match with Texas. Rea would look to be the one to finish off the Trojans, as he went up a break in the third set. He would give the break right back to USC's Daniel Langre, who went on to down Rea 7-2 in the third set's tiebreaker and tie the match at 3-3. Next to Rea, on court three, Carey was down a break in the third set of his match with USC's freshman Prakash Armitraj. However, Carey looked to be in good shape, up love-30 in the set's ninth game, a game that if he would have won, it would have put the match back on serve and headed to a possible tiebreak ending to the semifinal match. It was not to be, as Armitraj clinched his second match for the Trojans in as many days when he took the third and deciding set 6-3 to end the Vols seasonending winning streak at 11.
"I think the turning point in the whole match was Prakash Amritraj coming back from 5-2 down in the tie-breaker in the first set," said Fancutt. "Because Adam won the second set easily and I think if he would have won that first set tie-breaker, he would have won the match."
The Vols have now completed the team season, but seniors Handoyo and Toledo will be taking part in Wednesday's NCAA singles championships, while Toledo will join Rea in the doubles championships. The 64-man singles draw and 32-team doubles draws will be announced Tuesday.
|#11 USC 4, #2 Tennessee 3|
|1) (7) Peter Handoyo (UT) def. (30) Andrew Park (USC) 6-3, 6-1|
|2) (18) Mario Toledo (UT) def. (87) Ryan Moore (USC) 7-5, 6-3|
|3) (85) Prakash Amritraj (USC) def. (77) Adam Carey (UT) 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3|
|4) (46) Nick Rainey (USC) def. (82) Mark Dietrich (UT) 7-5, 6-4|
|5) Daniel Langre (USC) def. Simon Rea (UT) 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2)|
|6) Rueben Torres (USC) def. Wade Orr (UT) 6-4, 6-4|
|Finishing order: 6, 1, 2, 4, 5, 3*|
|1) (22) Rea/Toledo (UT) def. (9) Moore/Rainey (USC) 8-6*|
|2) Carey/Handoyo (UT) def. Teige Sullivan/Torres (USC) 8-3|
|3) Amritraj/Langre (USC) def. Dietrich/Crews (UT) 8-6|
|Finishing order: 2, 3, 1*|