Senior Chris Smith had a big win in tonight's match.
Courtesy: GoMocs.com
Mocs Post 4-3 Win Over Defending SoCon Champion Cougars
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's tennis team scored a huge win over the defending Southern Conference Champion College of Charleston at the Hixson Racquet Club tonight.  The Mocs snapped a six-match losing streak to the Cougars with a 4-3 victory in the SoCon opener for both teams. 

"This was certainly a great way to start the conference season," stated head coach Carlos Garcia, who saw his team improve to 6-3 overall with tonight's win.  "Since getting back from the Carolina match, we have changed the way we play.  We worked hard on it during the week and that paid off tonight."

The doubles point has been very important to the Mocs throughout the season.  UTC came into the match 5-0 when taking a 1-0 lead.  Seniors Ankit Chopra (Chandigrah, India) and Stephen Crofford (Franklin, Tenn.) scored a 9-7 win over Zack Lewis and Josh Record at No. 3 to put UTC in the driver's seat. 

Charleston (2-4, 0-1 SoCon) evened things up with Brice Allanic and Sebastain Lopez's win at No. 1 over UTC seniors Chris Smith (Johnson City, Tenn.) and Roberto Vieira (Bedfordview, South Africa).  That left the No. 2 match with seniors Manuel Barroetavena (Buenos Aires, Argetina) and Jackson Tresnan (Apopka, Fla.) against Charlie Ghriskey and Alon Faiman as the decider.  The Mocs were able to grab the point with Barroetavena and Tresnan's 8-6 win. 

Charleston quickly tied the score in singles with Faiman's (6-3, 6-2) win over Tresnan at No. 5.  However, that was the only speedy match of the evening.  The rest would either go three sets or have at least one tie-breaker before being decided. 

UTC took the first set in three of the other five matches, but had to battle for every point.  Charleston would actually grab a 2-1 lead when Ghriskey defeated sophomore Pavels Grigorjevs (6-4, 7-6) at No. 4.  Grigorjevs got down 4-1 in the second set before going ahead 6-5.  Ghriskey forced a tie-breaker which he won for the match.

Smith countered with a huge win over All-SoCon player Crescente Lesser at No. 3.  Smith fell behind 4-1 in the first set before forcing a tie-breaker of his own.  He won that 7-5 and quickly went up 5-2 in the second.  Lesser battled back to 5-4 before Smith closed out to tie the team score at 2-2.

"Tonight was about winning the some of the bad matchups for us," added Garcia.  "When Chris stole that point at No. 3, I think that confidence spread through our team and the rest of the guys started to believe we could win the whole thing."

Barroetavena and Vieira both won their first sets, but by the time Smith pulled off his win, they were each in three-set battles and No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. 

Barroetavena missed a golden opportunity last week with a three-set loss to North Carolina's No. 77 Brett Clark (3-6, 7-5, 1-0 (8)) and did not want a repeat performance tonight.  He won the first set 6-4 against Lopez, but gave back the second 3-6.  He ran out to a 4-0 lead in the third, but Lopez battled back to 4-3.  In the end, Barroetavena seemed to have the fresher legs as he took the last two games for a (6-4, 3-6, 6-3) win.  He improved to 8-1 in the spring and a team-best 15-6 overall. 

"This was a big win for the team," stated Barroetavena.  "We played a really good match at North Carolina, even though the score did not show it.  We worked hard all week and it was nice to see that pay off tonight.  We just have to keep it going."

With the Mocs leading 3-2 in the team score, UTC needed a win in one of the last two matches on the court.  Vieira was locked in a battle with Allanic, but Chopra had quietly fought back from a first set loss to win his second at No. 6. 

Vieira was actually up 6-5 and Chopra up 5-4 before both matches went into tie-breakers.  Vieira and Allanic put on a show with some amazing play throughout the night from both sides.  However, it was a double-fault on match point by Allanic that gave Vieira the win (7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (5)), clinching the match for UTC. 

Chopra eventually fell in his tie-breaker to Lewis (7-6 (4), 5-7, 7-6 (5)) to make the final score 4-3.  For Vieira, it was just his second win of the spring as he snapped a personal three-match losing streak. 

"There is no one on our team who can better play the way we want to play than Roberto," said Garcia.  "He stayed positive throughout the match and got a big win.  We have to do this a few more times this season, but it is a great way to start."

UTC hits the road next week for mid-week matched at Davidson and Gardner-Webb.  The Mocs face the Wildcats on Wednesday, March 6, at 2:00 p.m. (E.S.T.) in Davidson, N.C. before traveling to Gardner-Webb for a 2:00 p.m. match on Thursday, March 7, in Boiling Springs, N.C.

Chattanooga 4, College of Charleston 3
Mar 02, 2013 at Chattanooga, Tenn. (Hixson Racquet Club)
Doubles competition
1. Brice Allanic/Sebastian Lopez (COFC) def. Chris Smith/Roberto Vieira (UTC) - 8-5
2. Manuel Barroetavena/Jackson Tresnan (UTC) def. Charlie Ghriskey/Alon Faiman (COFC) - 8-6
3. Stephen Crofford/Ankit Chopra (UTC) def. Zack Lewis/Josh Record (COFC) - 9-7

Singles competition
1. Roberto Vieira (UTC) def. Brice Allanic (COFC) - 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5)
2. Manuel Barroetavena (UTC) def. Sebastian Lopez (COFC) - 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
3. Chris Smith (UTC) def. Crescente Lesser (COFC) - 7-6 (7-5), 6-4
4. Charlie Ghriskey (COFC) def. Pavels Grigorjevs (UTC) - 6-4, 7-6 (7-1)
5. Alon Faiman (COFC) def. Jackson Tresnan (UTC) - 6-3, 6-2
6. Zack Lewis (COFC) def. Ankit Chopra (UTC) - 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 7-6 (7-5)

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