Rea bows in NCAA opener

Vol tennis standout Simon Rea saw his Cinderella season come to an end Wednesday, when he was defeated by Illinois' Brian Wilson in the first round of the NCAA Men's Singles Champoionships at Athens, Ga.

Wilson prevailed by a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 score.

''The end result today was very disappointing for Simon,'' Vol assistant coach Chris Mahony said. ''He is one of the hardest-working athletes that I have ever seen in my life, so every time he steps on the court, he's earned the right to feel like he deserves to win.''

Not this time, though.

Rea, who played primarily at No. 5 singles for the Vols in 2002, ascended to the No. 1 spot this season and won 26 of 34 matches before running into Wilson. He posted nine wins over ranked opponents -- best among UT players -- and earned second-team All-SEC recognition. He also posted career highs in wins (26), winning percentage (74.3) and singles ranking (No. 18 nationally).

Only a junior, Rea is already looking ahead to a big senior season for the Vols.

''Simon, (head coach Michael) Fancutt and I will take a few days to think about the match, let it settle and then we'll go back to work on whatever it is that the three of us feel Simon needs to improve on so that he can get back here at the NCAA Tournament one year from now a better, stronger player, '' Mahony said.


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