The Chattanooga men's tennis team earned its first Southern Conference win of the season Friday afternoon, defeating The Citadel 5-2. A dramatic finish to doubles propelled the Mocs to four singles wins, as Chattanooga improved to 3-12 overall and 1-6 in the SoCon.
With the win, Chattanooga snaps a 17-match winless streak in SoCon play. It is the Mocs' first win in league play since defeating Georgia Southern 4-3 on April 6, 2008. The Citadel fell to 5-11 and 2-5 in the conference with the loss.
"Well it's indescribable, stated head coach Carlos Garcia when asked about the win. "I've had some great moments in my life and this one ranks up with the best. It's not a conference championship. It's just the fact that we're turning things around. I would really like to see us enjoy this for a few hours but I would really like to see us get on the stick tomorrow and make it two in a row. We've still got work to do."
Vieira and Pool took a commanding 40-0 lead in what looked like the final game, before Yufo Sutantio and Alberto Diaz came storming back to force the match into a tiebreaker.
With the momentum, Sutantio and Diaz took the tiebreaker and the No. 1 doubles 9-8 (7-1). That just left Chris Smith and Stephen Crofford for the Mocs. The pair of freshman were down 7-6, but able to break serve in the reversal of what was happening on the first court. Smith and Crofford forced a tiebreaker and won the match 9-8 (7-3) to earn the doubles point for the Mocs.
It was the second doubles point in three SoCon matches for the Mocs, who started only freshman in every match.
"I didn't know what was happening on court two," explained Garcia. "I didn't realize we were down match points. I was just focused on court one and we had match points. We were a little timid and gun-shy and guys didn't want the ball. Perhaps that's a lesson learn. But to turn around and learn we saved three match points on court two in a similar situation, I've never been a part of something like that before. We fought hard last week against Wofford and Furman, and even though we lost we didn't give up, and maybe some of that stuck today. Persistence pays off."
Disterdick was the first one off the courts in singles play, winning 6-1, 6-0 at the five spot over Jeremiah Dye.
The Citadel put its first point on the board when David Orces withstood a comeback to beat Smith 6-2, 7-5 at No. 3. Crofford answered for UTC, dominating the second set of his match after winning a tiebreaker in the first. Crofford beat Jeremiah Dye 7-6 (7-4), 6-1.
The next three matches all went into a third set, and the decisive point was in question until late in the day.
Pool finally gave the Mocs the win with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 defeat of Alberto Diaz at the No. 2 spot.
With the match decided, Vieira and Tresnan continued to play. Tresnan eventually lost in a third-set tiebreak after cruising through the first set.
Vieira, at the No. 1, won the first set as well, but Sutantio continued to fight back. Vieira had two chances to serve for the match in the third set, but Sutantio forced yet another tiebreak. Vieira came out on top, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (11-9).
The Mocs will try to carry over their momentum into Saturday, when they face Appalachian State at the UTC Tennis Courts at 1 p.m.
"We have six matches left," stated Garcia. "I'm trying to start our season with six matches to go and in this little season of ours we're 1-0. We're trying to have a winning record in our last six matches. Maybe we can get some confidence."
Chattanooga 5, The Citadel 2
1. Alberto Diaz/Yufo Sutantio (CIT) def. Roberto Viera/Ryan Pool (UTC) - 9-8 (7-1)
2. Chris Smith/Stephen Crofford (UTC) def. Derek Dickey/David Orces (CIT) - 9-8 (7-3)
3. William Disterdick/Jackson Tresnan (UTC) def. Josh Cook/Luis Morett (CIT) - 8-5
1. Roberto Vieira (UTC) def. Yufo Sutantio (CIT) - 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (11-9)
2. Ryan Pool (UTC) def. Alberto Diaz (CIT) - 7-5, 3-6, 6-2
3. David Orces (CIT) def. Chris Smith (UTC) - 6-2, 7-5
4. Derek Dickey (CIT) def. Jackson Tresnan (UTC) - 7-6 (8-6)
5. William Disterdick (UTC) def. Josh Cook (CIT) - 6-1, 6-0
6. Stephen Crofford (UTC) def. Jeremiah Dye (CIT) - 7-6 (7-4), 6-1