Sept. 10, 2003
CLAREMONT, Calif. - Tennessee's Simon Rea officially began his senior season Wednesday with a gritty three-set victory over No. 8-seeded Mirko Pehar at the Pomona Valley Medical Center USTA Pro Classic, a USTA Professional Futures Circuit event at The Claremont Club.
Rea got his final season as a Vol off to a winning start despite falling into an early one-set deficit. The New Zealand native lost the first set by a score of 6-3, but fought back valiantly to capture the second set 7-5. Pehar served for the match at 5-3 in the final set, but couldn't shut the door as Rea broke service to stay alive. Rea then took control of the match and never lost a game on his way to a thrilling 7-5 victory.
"Simon showed incredible guts and determination in his match [Wednesday]," Tennessee associate head coach Chris Mahony said. "He got down 5-2 in the third set and won the match on sheer persistence and perseverance. He came into this tournament off an extended break due to an injury that he sustained midway through the summer. Simon is extremely mentally fresh and excited to be playing again. However, I still think he's working his way back to 100 percent health."
Pehar-an American-is ranked No. 607 in the most current ATP entry rankings. Rea is currently listed at No. 878 in the world and No. 12 in the ITA collegiate preseason singles rankings.
"I'm very proud of Simon's effort today," Mahony said. "It was the type of effort that, as a team- and all of our players individually- we need to show in order to win the SEC."
Rea's first-round match Wednesday afternoon marked the first action of the 2003 fall season for a member of the Volunteers' men's tennis team.
The USTA Professional Circuit is the world's premier developmental circuit for aspiring professional tennis players. It allows players to gain the experience and ranking points needed to participate on the major pro tours and in Grand Slam tournaments. Futures events are one of three levels of tournaments, including Satellite and Challenger events, on the USTA Professional circuit and generally offer approximately $15,000 in prize money per event.
The Pomona Valley Medical Center USTA Pro Classic benefits the Robert and Beverly Lewis Family Cancer Care Center. Last year's tournament raised more than $7,000 towards the Cancer Care Center for un-reimbursed programs and services including the breast health program, prostate cancer program, psycho-social oncology program and various other support services.