Oct. 3, 2003
CHATTANOOGA - Tennessee senior tennis player Wade Orr saw his first action of the fall Friday in the singles pre-qualifying draw of the Icy Hot/ITA Men's All-American Championships at The Champions Club. Orr recorded one singles victory on the day, as did freshman Johnny Thornton.
Orr, seeded No. 17, looked good in his season debut. The Vol veteran overcame a one-set deficit to dispatch Arizona State freshman Nick Hegarty. Orr had yet to play a match this season due to a nagging back injury. Tennessee head coach Michael Fancutt was pleased to see the Clarksville native start his final season on a winning note.
"It was great to see Wade back playing tournaments again," Fancutt said. "[To have high expectations of him would be unrealistic] at this stage. He hasn't played competitive tennis for months. Hopefully this will help him in the future, in the coming tournaments, to get back to where he was before his injuries."
In his round-of-128 match, Orr went up against MTSU junior Rishan Kuruppu. Consecutive hard court matches in the same day proved difficult for Orr, and he fell by a score of 6-4, 6-3.
Thornton, meanwhile, notched his third win of the season by defeating Butler freshman James Low in straight sets in the round of 256. The Vol newcomer then faced former Tennessee Tech netter Gernot Fischer, now a senior at Santa Clara. The match went to a deciding third-set tiebreaker, in which the German upperclassman managed to eliminate the Volunteer rookie despite a valiant effort.
"It was a good win by Johnny Thornton this morning in his first match," Fancutt said. "He also played a great second match, only to suffer cramps when he was up 6-5 in the third set. He lost, unfortunately, 7-5 in the tiebreak. Johnny has shown great improvement since he came to school (in August,) and in each tournament he has seemed to play better."
Martin had the misfortune of drawing No. 33-seeded Ross Wilson of Ohio State in the round of 256. The Buckeye freshman and the Vol sophomore split the first two sets before Wilson went on to win the third stanza 6-4. The loss was only Martin's second setback of the fall, and the Memphis native now owns a solid season singles record of 6-2.
Orr and fellow senior Simon Rea will attempt to qualify for the main doubles draw next week, and Rea will try to navigate a gauntlet of highly-ranked competitors in the main singles draw as well.
With over 300 competitors taking part, the Icy Hot ITA Men's All-American Championships is the largest tournament of the 2003-04 collegiate tennis season. It offers the first of three national singles and doubles titles during the season, and is followed by the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships in November and the season-ending NCAA Championships in May.
Icy Hot/ITA Men's All-American Championships -- Oct. 3, 2003
Singles Pre-Qualifying - Round of 256
No. 17 Orr (UT) def. Hegarty (Arizona State), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
Thornton (UT) def. Low (Butler), 6-3, 6-2
No. 33 Wilson (Ohio State) def. Martin (UT), 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
Singles Pre-Qualifying - Round of 128
Kuruppu (MTSU) def. No. 17 Orr (UT), 6-4, 6-3
Fischer (Santa Clara) def. Thornton (UT), 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(5)