Diaz battled in his first set vs. Oklahoma’s Mark Mandlik, winning his tiebreaker 7-5 at 6-all. The Manabi, Ecuador, native gained momentum in his second set, taking 85 percent of his first serve points to win 6-3, securing the straight-set victory.
UT (7-0) took the doubles point in an intense battle with the Sooners (5-1). The 34th-ranked duo of Shunsuke Mitsui and Filip Pieczonka took the first win in 6-3 fashion over OU’s Mandlik and Nathan Han. Younes Lalami and Filip Apltauer delivered the clinching point in a gritty 7-5 victory over the Sooners’ Jordan Hasson and Luis Alvarez. Johannus Monday and Diaz, ranked 26th in doubles, were tied 6-all before the match went unfinished.
No. 20 Monday took care of business in singles, routing No. 91 Alex Martinez in an impressive 6-2, 6-0 victory atop the lineup, winning 80 percent of his total serve points to record his fourth win over a ranked opponent in four consecutive matches. No. 33 Mitsui gave UT a 3-1 advantage after taking down Justin Schlageter, 7-6(4), 6-0. Oklahoma gained its only point of the match with a win on court three, followed by Diaz’s clinching performance.
“One thing about this team is that we have nine players from nine different countries, and every year is different,” said associate head coach James McKie. “One thing I see this year is a group of guys that truly care about each other, and I see a legitimate team. Not only that, but I think as a coaching staff, we have the flexibility to put guys in different spots depending on how they feel and where we are as a program, and I think every guy has bought into playing their role and trusting the coaching staff based on the preparation that we’ve done as a staff and as a team, so I’m excited for what’s to come this spring.”
HEADED TO THE BIG APPLE
The Vols have now qualified for four consecutive ITA National Indoor Team Championships. The last time Tennessee advanced out of the ITA Kickoff Weekend four years in a row was during a six-year stretch of qualifying for the event from 2009-14. The 2024 ITA Indoor Championships are set to be held in New York City and run Feb. 16-19.
HOT START FOR SHUN
Shunsuke Mitsui is off to an…