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Unbeaten O'Brien claims another win, but tennis team drops 6-1 match

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Sophomore Dean O'Brien kept his early-season winning streak going strong Friday night, but it was the only point that the Tennessee Tech men's tennis squad could muster in losing a 6-1 non-conference match to Middle Tennessee State.

A sophomore business major from Benmore, South Africa, O'Brien improved to 3-0 in 2009 as Tech's No. 1 player in singles, posting a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 victory over MTSU's Victor Melo.

"We played well, but Middle Tennessee is a very strong team," said first-year Tech coach Dan Silverstein. "They're going to be a Top 50 team."

Middle Tennessee opened the season earlier in the day by shutting out Chattanooga, 7-0. Silverstein was highly complimentary of O'Brien.

"Dean played really well, and this was a nice win for him," Silverstein said. "He's a great player, and he's a great kid, too. He's a leader for us and he does all the right things, on the court and off. I think he's going to have a really outstanding season."

The Golden Eagles opened the event by yielding the doubles point to the Blue Raiders, battling in all three tandem contests before losing. James Crawford and Lloyd Harris fell, 8-3, to John Peers and Robert McKenzie at No. 1 doubles; O'Brien and Justin Kirstein won five points from Melo and Matthew Langley before falling 8-3; and Josh Girling and Mario Gutierrez dropped an 8-4 set to Richard Cowden and Morgan Richard to put the Blue Raiders on top, 1-0.

Walking off the court with straight set wins in the first three matches to finish clinched the match for the Blue Raiders. At No. 3, McKenzie topped Girling, 6-1, 6-2, followed by a 6-2, 6-1 win by Peers over Alex Chen at No. 2. The fourth point went to MTSU when Richard claimed a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Oscar Pachon at No. 5.

Kirstein earned the middle set at No. 4 before losing to Langley, 0-6, 6-4, 3-6 to make it a 5-0 MTSU lead.

O'Brien battled his way to a win at No. 1 for Tech's point, before Cowden outlasted Gutierrez at No. 6, 6-0, 7-5.

The Golden Eagles are now out of action for nearly a month, returning in mid February for a pair of contests in the Hoosier State. Tech plays at Indiana State on Feb. 20, and Butler on Feb. 21.

The Tech women's team, meanwhile, opens the spring season at Middle Tennessee on Feb. 1. The Golden Eagle women then play a pair of home matches in the middle of the month with visits by Arkansas-Little Rock on Feb. 7, and Arkansas State on Feb. 15.

Middle Tennessee 6, Tennessee Tech 1
Friday, January 23, 2009 (at Nashboro Village)

Singles

1. Dean O'Brien (TTU) def. Victor Melo (MT) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
2. John Peers (MT) def. Alex Chen (TTU) 6-2, 6-1
3. Robert McKenzie (MT) def. Josh Girling (TTU) 6-1, 6-2
4. Matthew Langley (MT) def. Justin Kirstein (TTU) 6-0, 4-6, 6-3
5. Morgan Richard (MT) def. Oscar Pachon (TTU) 6-2, 6-2
6. Richard Cowden (MT) def. Mario Gutierrez (TTU) 6-0, 7-5

Doubles

1. John Peers/Robert McKenzie (MT) def. James Crawford/Lloyd Harris (TTU) 8-3
2. Victor Melo/Matthew Langley (MT) def. Justin Kirstein/Dean O'Brien (TTU) 8-5
3. Richard Cowden/Morgan Richard (MT) def. Josh Girling/Mario Gutierrez (TTU) 8-4

Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (3,2,5,4,1,6)