The No. 2 match went to a tiebreaker after being deadlocked at eight games each. Juniors Ankit Chopra (Chandigrah, India) and Stephen Crofford (Franklin, Tenn.) were trailing 5-3 in the breaker before closing the gap to 6-5. Bruno Silva snuck a return down the right side, earning the win for himself and teammate Hanrigue Norbiato and the doubles point for Belmont.
Despite playing the fewest games, the No. 3 match took the longest. Junior Jackson Tresnan (Apopka, Fla.) and freshman Pavels Grigorjevs (Riga, Latvia) came away with an 8-5 win over Fernando Mussolini and Rodrigo Amaral.
Belmont seemed to keep the momentum going early on, grabbing the first set in three of the singles matches. "They jumped on us early," stated head coach Carlos Garcia. "Between winning the doubles point and getting out in front in the singles matches, they put us in a hole early."
Smith helped UTC dig out of that hole quickly with another strong performance, improving to 4-1 at No. 2. He made fast work of Antun in a (6-4, 6-2) win. Smith was off the court 30 minutes before any other match, tying the team score at 1-1.
UTC took the lead when Vieira defeated Amaral in straight sets at No. 1. Vieira moved to 4-2 overall in the top spot with the (6-4, 6-2) victory. Belmont tied the score a 2-2 with Silva's three set win at No. 3 over Grigorjevs (6-4, 1-6, 6-3).
That left three matches on the court with both teams needing two wins. The Mocs were down a set in two of the three, but Chopra and junior Manuel Barroetavena (Buenos Aires, Argentina) both forced a third set in their matches at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.
At the same time, Tresnan won a first-set tiebreaker (7-5) to go up in his match at No. 5. Tresnan would be the first to win among the final three matches. He dominated his second set against a cramping Mussolini to win (7-6 (7-5), 6-2).
Chopra was also cramping, but ran off a 6-1 win in the second frame to send his match against Norbiato to a third set. Chopra got behind 4-1 early in the final frame, but managed to cut the lead back down to 4-3. However, as the match went on, his leg cramps reduced his mobility and his chance of winning.
That left Barroetavena's nail-biter as the ultimate deciding match. He lost the first frame 7-5 to Matos, but flipped the score to win the second set. All eyes were focused on the third set of this match, with Barroetavena eventually pulling out a 6-3 win. That gave Chattanooga a 4-2 lead and clinched the team victory. Chopra would go on to lose his match (7-5, 1-6, 6-3) to end the scoring at 4-3.
"I am proud of the way our guys battled today," added Garcia. "When you are able to grind out matches like these, you give yourself a chance to win. It is nice to see us coming away with a tough one like this early in the season."
UTC improves to 4-2 overall while the Bruins fall to 0-2. The Mocs are back at home on Sunday, Feb. 12, hosting Gardner-Webb at the Hixson Racquet Club. Match time is set for 10:00 a.m. (E.S.T.) and a live scoring link will be available on the men's tennis schedule page on GoMocs.com.
Chattanooga 4, Belmont 3
1 - Renato Antun/Rafael Matos (Belmont) def. Roberto Vieira/Chris Smith (UTC) - 8-6
2 - Henrique Norbiato/Bruno Silva (Belmont) def. Ankit Chopra/Stephen Crofford (UTC) - 9-8 (7-5)
3 - Pavels Grigorjevs/Jackson Tresnan (UTC) def. Fernando Mussolini/Rodrigo Amaral (Belmont) - 8-5
1. Roberto Vieira (UTC) def. Rodrigo Amaral (Belmont) - 6-4, 6-2
2. Chris Smith (UTC) def. Renato Antun (Belmont) - 6-4, 6-2
3. Henrique Norbiato (Belmont) def. Ankit Chopra (UTC) - 7-5, 1-6, 6-3
4. Manuel Barroetavena (UTC) def. Rafael Matos (Belmont) - 5-7, 7-5, 6-3
5. Jackson Tresnan (UTC) def. Fernando Mussolini (Belmont) - 7-6 (7-5), 6-2
6. Bruno Silva (Belmont) def. Pavels Grigorjevs (UTC) - 6-4, 1-6, 6-3