Following an incredible run to the SEC championship match, the Tennessee men’s tennis team finally fell to the fifth-ranked Florida Gators 4-2 on Sunday.
The fifth-seeded Vols had won three matches in three days — including two wins over opponents that defeated UT in the regular season — to reach the finals at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
“We are happy with the run we made in the tournament getting all the way to the final,” coach Chris Mahony said. “But also disappointed that we didn’t win the tournament.
“We had our chances against a great Florida team. We got the momentum early with the doubles point and split the first set, they got three matches and we got three matches, but we couldn’t keep it going in the second and third sets.”
As they had done in each of their previous matches in the tournament, the Volunteers took the doubles point for an early 1-0 lead. Sophomore duo Ockie Oosthuizen and Ben Rogers rebounded from a tough loss Saturday to beat the 10th-ranked tandem of Hamid Mirzadeh and Greg Ouellette 8-4 in No. 1 doubles.
Bobby Cameron and Kaden Hensel clinched the point with their win at the No. 3 slot.
Florida quickly rebounded in singles, though, tying the score at 1 with Nestor Briceno’s straight-set win over Morgan Wilson, 6-3, 6-0. Mirzadeh put the Gators ahead at the No. 1 singles spot with his 6-4, 6-4 win over Mark Dietrich.
UT tied the score 2-2 when Oosthuizen rebounded from an earlier loss to Vladimir Obradovic to defeat the nation’s 103rd-ranked player, 7-6, 6-3.
As the final three matches went to a third set, Ouellette would put the Gators ahead for good with his come-from-behind, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Cameron.
Florida junior Ryan Sherry clinched the match with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 win over Hensel in the No. 6 spot.
The Vols now await an NCAA tournament bid, which will be released on May 4. NCAA regionals begin May 13 at campus sites.