The No. 21-ranked Tennessee men’s tennis team entered SEC Tournament play on Friday, taking on host-team Alabama in a quarterfinal matchup after receiving a double bye.
The Vols engaged in a tight battle with the Crimson Tide, but were ultimately able to carve out a 4-3 victory.
In doubles action, the highly talented No. 13-ranked duo of Preston Touliatos and Luis Valero thrashed the No. 30-ranked doubles team of Mazen Osama and Edson Ortiz by a score of 6-1, giving the Vols early momentum to capture the doubles point.
However, it would be a tough out for the Vols in the remaining doubles games.
In the second doubles spot, the team of Timo Stodder and Adam Walton fell just short to the duo of Thibault Cancel and Alexey Nesterov, 6-7, after a competitive tiebreaker.
Tied at one apiece, the third match would be crucial in determining which team would claim the doubles point.
After a tight set, the Crimson Tide team of Zhe Zhou and Patrick Kaukovalta prevailed over Nicaise Muamba and Scott Jones, 7-6, giving Alabama the early advantage heading into singles play.
On Court 2, Luis Valero picked up the first point for the Vols when he dispatched Patrick Kaukovalta in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. Alabama would recapture the lead when Adam Walton came up short against Alexey Nesterov by a score of 2-6, 1-6.
Shortly after, things would be knotted up again when Scott Jones took down Edson Ortiz on Court 3 with a final score of 7-6, 6-1.
The remaining matches would go the distance to three sets. No. 14-ranked Stodder fell to No. 30-ranked Mazen Osama, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6 in the top singles spot.
With the Vols trailing 2-3, Luca Wiedenmann would pull through with a pivotal victory over Riccardo Roberto by a score of 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, evening the score at 3-3.
All focus was then on Court 5 to decide which team would secure a spot in the semifinals.
Touliatos would go on to close out the deal and seal the victory for the Vols after splitting the first two sets. The third set was all even at five apiece before Touliatos pulled away to finish the match off.
With the win, the Vols are back in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament for the first time since 2013. The path definitely wasn’t easy, as the upset-minded Crimson Tide gave the Vols all they could handle.
Tennessee will face off against No. 1-seeded Texas A&M on Saturday. The match is set to begin at 3 p.m.