Sept. 17, 2003
COSTA MESA, Calif. - Tennessee junior Mark Dietrich was defeated by American professional Mirko Pehar Wednesday morning in the first round of the 2003 Diadora Pro Championships, a USTA Professional Futures Circuit event at the Costa Mesa Tennis Center.
Dietrich took control of the match early on, breaking the pro's serve and capturing the first set. But Pehar, the tournament's No. 3 seed, managed to turn the tide by winning a crucial second-set tiebreaker. Pehar then went on to record a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 victory.
"Mark lost a very close and extremely disappointing match [Wednesday]," Tennessee associate head coach Chris Mahony said. "Throughout the last two and a half years, he's done all the physical work, all the technical work and all the mental work; now it is simply time for him to start winning these big matches. He has to believe in himself and play his best tennis when the match is on the line-something he failed to do today. I have no doubt that he has the ability to win matches like this, but to get over the hurdle and make the next step, it has to come from within Mark."
Both players are listed in the most current ATP entry rankings, which were updated Sept. 15. Pehar holds a world singles ranking of No. 626, and Dietrich is ranked No. 1411. On the men's collegiate landscape, Dietrich is ranked No. 37 in the ITA fall preseason singles rankings, a career-high for the redshirt junior.
Vol senior Simon Rea, the No. 12-ranked collegiate singles player in the nation, was originally slated to compete this week at the Diadora Pro Championships, but withdrew from the event due to injury and did not make the trip. Rea reaggravated an arm injury in the second round of the Pomona Valley Medical Center USTA Pro Classic on Sept. 11. Interestingly, Pehar and Rea faced one another in the first round of that event, with Rea recording a three-set upset win exactly one week ago Wednesday.
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. While college players are permitted to participate in such tournaments, the NCAA places restrictions on the amount of winnings student-athletes can receive.
The Volunteers' next action takes place Sept. 25-28, at the adidas Invitational in Peachtree City, Ga. Tennessee's expected participants include Dietrich, sophomore Rawl Martin and freshman Johnny Thornton. Nagging injuries have put the status of seniors Rea (arm) and Wade Orr (back) in question for that event.