Jan. 18, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Without dropping a set, the sixth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers posted a pair of 7-0 shutouts against Tennessee Tech and Eastern Kentucky to open the 2014 season Saturday at Goodfriend Tennis Center.
Junior Hunter Reese led the way at the top of the singles lineup for just the second time in his career, producing a pair lightning-quick wins. While many familiar faces like Reese took the court for the Vols, a trio of newcomers -- junior Andrew Dromsky, sophomore Bartosz Sawicki and freshman Markus Kerner -- made their lineup debut and contributed in the lower half of the lineup.
The Vols (2-0) take a day off from action before another doubleheader Monday against ETSU at 10 a.m. and Murray State at 2 p.m.
Reese swapped spots in the singles lineup with doubles partner Mikelis Libietis. Reese was first off the court in both matches, beating Vasily Eremeev of Tennessee Tech 6-0, 6-1 and nearly pulling off the same feat in the afternoon with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Eastern Kentucky's Juanjo de la Llera.
"In the four hours we were playing tennis, he never took a point off," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "That's what a leader does. We've talked about Hunter and Mikelis -- whatever formation they play, 1 or 2 -- they're our 1-2 punch, and Hunter swung hard today."
Reese's fall season success vaulted him to 16th nationally. His marked improvement over the last few months, highlighted with a pair of ranked wins at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships in November, give the Vols the luxury of playing either Reese or Libietis at the top of the lineup this year.
"Either of us can play 1, either of us can play 2, either of us can win at those positions," Reese said. "There's no pressure. I'm just focused on winning, whether I play 1, 2 or I'm in the stands."
He and Libietis also picked up two doubles victories, giving the No. 1-ranked team in the nation 50 career wins as a team.
For Winterbotham, another clear bright spot of the day was the performance of the Vols' newcomers.
Dromsky and Kerner, each player standing at 6-foot-5 or taller, played No. 3 doubles and won both matches handedly in their debut as a team. Dromsky played No. 5 in the lineup, beating Tennessee Tech's Artem Tarasov 6-2, 6-1, and EKU's Florian Graskamp 6-1, 6-1. Kerner stepped in at No. 6 for singles, dropping only four games in each of his wins.
Sawicki, who has waited a year on the bench before being eligible for competition, only played singles but scored a pair of wins at No. 4.
"It's nerve-wracking to come out and play your first match," Winterbotham said. "We've got a team that's full of competition and everybody wants to play. I'm very impressed with those three guys in particular. They all won in straight sets. Andrew and Markus handled the doubles portion extremely well."
Libietis and Chaplin, both entering their third year in the starting lineup, picked up wins at No. 2 and 3 singles respectively. Chaplin also won both doubles matches at No. 2 with Brandon Fickey.
Tennessee 7, Tennessee Tech 0
1. #16 Hunter Reese (UT) def. Vasily Eremeev (TTU), 6-0, 6-1
2. #34 Mikelis Libietis (UT) def. Oleksiy Arovin (TTU) 6-4, 6-2
3. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) def. Alberto Esteban (TTU), 6-2, 6-3
4. Bartosz Sawicki (UT) def. Gagan Jain (TTU), 6-4, 6-2
5. Andrew Dromsky (UT) def. Artem Tarasov (TTU), 6-2, 6-1
6. Markus Kerner (UT) def. Alvaro Cintas (TTU), 6-2, 6-2
1. #1 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) def. Vasily Eremeev/Oleksiy Arovin (TTU), 6-1
2. #28 Jarryd Chaplin/Brandon Fickey (UT) def. Artem Tarasov/Alberto Esteban (TTU) 6-1
3. Andrew Dromsky/Markus Kerner (UT) def. Gagan Jain/Alvaro Cintas (TTU) 6-1
Order of Finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (1,5,6,2,3,4)
Tennessee 7, EKU 0
1. #16 Hunter Reese (UT) def. Juanjo de la Llera (EKU) 6-1, 6-0
2. #34 Mikelis Libietis (UT) def. Alex Alvaro (EKU) 6-4, 6-1
3. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) def. Daridge Saidi (EKU) 6-3, 6-2
4. Bartosz Sawicki (UT) def. Joao Maio (EKU) 6-2, 6-1
5. Andrew Dromsky (UT) def. Florian Graskamp (EKU) 6-1, 6-1
6. Markus Kerner (UT) def. Diego Asis (EKU) 6-1, 6-3
1. #1 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) def. Juanjo de la Llera/Alex Alvaro (EKU)
2. #28 Jarryd Chaplin/Brandon Fickey (UT) def. Daridge Saidi/Diego Asis (EKU)
3. Andrew Dromsky/Markus Kerner (UT) def. Joao Maio/Florian Graskamp (EKU)
Order of Finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (1,4,5,6,2,3)