Sept. 27, 2004
ATHENS, Ga. -- Tennessee's men's tennis players Ockie Oosthuizen (pronounced: AH-kee OOST-ow-zen) and Ben Rogers became the first Volunteers to claim an individual tournament title since 2002 by capturing the doubles championship at the Southern Intercollegiate Championships Monday afternoon.
Oosthuizen and Rogers' 8-4 victory over Duke's Peter Rodrigues and Jonathan Stokke in Monday's final marked the pair's fifth straight win and the fourth over a nationally ranked team during this weekend's event. The unseeded Vols sophomores earned their first career finals berth by defeating the top-seeded Florida State team of Jeff Groslimond and Chris Westerhof by a score of 8-3 just a few hours earlier in Monday morning's semifinals.
"It was a great tournament for this young squad," UT head coach Michael Fancutt said. "Ockie and Ben beat four top-20 teams this weekend to win the doubles tournament. So that bodes well for this upcoming season. Their performance is very satisfying for the coaches because doubles is one of the areas where coaching can help the most. Doubles play has always been a strong point here at Tennessee, and that's something we've been proud of."
During their determined dash to the championship, the Vols tandem defeated the Nos. 10- 13- 14- and 20-ranked doubles teams in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's preseason rankings. Oosthuizen and Rogers are not currently ranked.
Oosthuizen (a native of Western Cape, South Africa) and Rogers (a native of Kingsport) become the first Vols to win an individual (singles or doubles) tournament title since Mark Dietrich and Peter Handoyo won the 2002 SEC Indoor doubles championship.
As true freshmen last season, Oosthuizen and Rogers posted an 8-6 overall record as a doubles pairing while playing the majority of UT's dual matches out of the Nos. 2 and 3 doubles position.
"This was a good week for Ockie and I," Rogers said after the win. "We went into the week not having beaten any ranked teams. To win four in a row has been amazing. It's a big confidence-booster for both of us, and I'm looking forward to transferring this success into my singles play as well."
"This is the first college tournament win for Ben and I, and it feels great," Oosthuizen said. "We played four ranked teams and beat them all, so that was quite good. After we beat the Auburn team (Saturday in the round of 16), we got a lot of confidence. We knew that if we could beat them, then we could beat anyone. We got stronger with every match, and we never got our serve broken after that.
"Personally, this was the best doubles I've ever seen Ben play, so I give him a lot of credit."
Oosthuizen and Rogers were not alone on the victory stand, as fellow sophomore Matt Berry added to the Vols' title haul at the UGA's Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Courts. Berry toppled Florida's Ryan Sherry, the No. 5 seed, in the Division II Singles consolation final.
"Matt Berry won four matches in a row this weekend, culminating in his victory in the singles consolation final [Monday]." Fancutt said. "That's the first time he's won four in a row since he's been at UT, and it should help his confidence going into this season."
The win marked Berry's first career tournament title. The South African native posted a 3-5 overall singles record in limited action a season ago.
The tennis Vols' next action comes this Friday, as prequalifying begins for the Icy Hot/ITA All-American Championships in Chattanooga.
Southern Intercollegiate Championships - Mon., Sept. 27
Division I Doubles - Semifinals
Oosthuizen/Rogers (UT) def. No. 1-seed Groslimond/Westerhof (FSU), 8-3
Division I Doubles - Final
Oosthuizen/Rogers (UT) def. No 7-seed Rodrigues/Stokke (DU), 8-4
Division II Singles - Consolation Final
Matt Berry (UT) def. No. 5-seed Ryan Sherry (UF), 3-6, 6-2, (10-7)