The Tennessee men’s tennis team could not advance past LSU Friday night as the Tigers defeated UT 4-2 in the second round of the SEC tournament played at LSU’s W.T. “Dub” Robinson Tennis Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.
“I thought the guys’ effort was great,” coach Sam Winterbotham said. “It was just like the match earlier this season (LSU defeated UT 4-3 on March 2), and the difference between the two teams tonight is that LSU handled the environment better than we did. If we learn from this we can do great things in the NCAA tournament.”
The Vols (16-7, 7-4) have won the doubles point in almost 80 percent of their matches this season but can’t seem to get the job done against LSU (16-5, 7-4), as the Tigers once again defeated UT in doubles to take an early 1-0 lead.
The Tigers’ fifth-ranked duo of Danny Bryan and Colt Gaston defeated UT’s Bobby Cameron and Kaden Hensel 8-5 at the No. 1 position. LSU’s Kevin Dessauer and Jan Zelezny defeated Bo Hardegree and Davey Sandgren 8-3 at the No. 3 slot to clinch the point.
The Vols did not quit, though, as they quickly won two singles matches to take the lead. Senior Ben Rogers tied the match with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Cluskey at the No. 5 position. Rogers leads the team with 18 dual-match victories. Coincidentally, UT is now 16-2 this season when Rogers wins his singles match. Both losses came to LSU.
Hensel gave the Vols their only lead of the match with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Skupski at the No. 1 position. Skupski is one of the most decorated players in SEC tennis. The senior has been named to the All-SEC first team all four years of college, but Hensel has had his number this season — the UT junior has defeated him in all three of their matches in 2007.
Gaston tied the match with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Cameron. Zelezny gave LSU a 3-2 advantage with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Chris Racz at the No. 6 position. The loss was only Racz’s second in dual-match play this season.
Bryan clinched the watch with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Sandgren at the No. 2 position. Sandgren was leading in the second set 4-2, but Bryan was able to come back and take control of the set and ultimately clinched the match for LSU.
Tennessee will not play again until May 11 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Vols will find out where and who they face in the NCAA tournament on May 1. The selection show will be televised by ESPNews at 2:30 p.m.