Jan. 19, 2013
KNOXVILLE -- The Tennessee Volunteers collected two more wins in shutout fashion Saturday against Oklahoma State and Belmont to stay unbeaten to start the year at Goodfriend Tennis Center.
Tennessee (4-0) did not drop a set in singles all day in a 4-0 victory against Oklahoma State in the morning, followed by a 7-0 sweep of Belmont later in the afternoon.
Just getting in the matchplay is key for the Vols in the first weekend of the season, Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said.
The team is in the midst of playing seven matches over a five-day span at home to prepare for a testing two months of road matches. The journey starts next week at Illinois for the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, a two-day tournament to determine the field for the national indoors.
Instead of more intrasquad matches in practice, the Vols have opted to take the things they're learning to a busy stretch of home competition with other schools. No practice can truly simulate a dual match.
"This time of year, you need matches," Winterbotham said. "We felt like just to play three matches at home wouldn't be enough. We need six or seven matches at home so we just put them on three days."
Senior John Collins was the only Vol to collect singles wins in both matches Saturday. In a race to four points against Oklahoma State, Collins clinched the team victory 6-2, 6-4 against Richard Del Nunzio at the No. 5 position. He stepped up to court 3 against Belmont and wrapped up the 7-0 shutout by beating Fernando Mussolini 6-3, 6-3.
All eight active players on the roster won at least one match.
The Vols' two ranked players, No. 9 Mikelis Libietis and No. 40 Hunter Reese, each earned their team-leading 16th win of the season in the Belmont match. Reese has won a career-best eight matches in a row, having captured the singles title at the Wake Forest Spring Invitational on Sunday.
Freshman Sebastian Yllera has dropped just won game in his first two career dual matches for the Vols. He won his debut 6-0, 6-0 on Thursday at No. 6 singles and picked up a 6-1, 6-0 victory at the same position Saturday against Belmont's Hans Nardelli.
Senior Ed Jones won his 10th match of the season, earning it against Belmont in a 6-2, 6-1 victory against Navarro Veys. Senior Taylor Patrick, Junior Jarryd Chaplin and sophomore Brandon Fickey were also straight-set winners.
"You can't fault their effort," Winterbotham said. "There are certain players we are looking for certain things and it's great when they do that. It gives us a point of emphasis if they're not doing it in matches. This team works really hard, and they will be successful if they continue that and they learn from that and implement that in their matches. If they do that, we can be really good this year."
The Vols get back in action Monday for their longest day yet with three matches scheduled. Tennessee plays Eastern Kentucky at 11 a.m. and then Murray State twice in the afternoon starting at 2 p.m.
#19 Tennessee 4, Oklahoma State 0
1. #9 Mikelis Libietis, UT, vs. Rifat Biktyakov, OSU, 6-3, 4-2 uf.
2. #40 Hunter Reese, UT, vs. Chris Haworth, OSU, 6-4, 5-2 uf.
3. Jarryd Chaplin, UT, def. Matt Campbell, OSU, 6-1, 6-1
4. Brandon Fickey, UT, def. Denys Pume, OSU, 6-1, 6-1
5. John Collins, UT, def. Richard Del Nunzio, OSU, 6-2, 6-4
6. Edward Jones, UT, vs. Oleksiy Arovin, OSU, 7-6
1. #26 Chaplin/Libietis, UT, def. Campbell/Biktyakov, OSU, 8-4
2. Del Nunzio/Pume, OSU, def. Collins/Jones, UT, 8-2
3. Fickey/Reese, UT, def. Arovin/Bohrnstedt, OSU, 8-2
Order of Finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (3,4,5).
Tennessee 7, Belmont 0
1. #9 Mikelis Libietis, UT, def. Renato Antum, Belmont, 6-3, 7-5
2. #40 Hunter Reese, UT, def. Henrique Norbiato, Belmont, 6-4, 6-0
3. John Collins, UT, vs. Fernando Mussolini, Belmont, 6-3, 6-3
4. Edward Jones, UT, def. Navarro Veys, Belmont, 6-1, 6-2
5. Taylor Patrick, UT, def. Bruno Silva, Belmont, 6-2, 6-3
6. Sebastian Yllera, UT, def. Hans Nardelli, Belmont, 6-1, 6-0
1. #26 Libietis/Chaplin, UT, def. Antun/Veys, Belmont, 8-3
2. Jones/Collins, UT, def. Norbiato/Mussolini, Belmont, 8-2
3. Reese/Fickey, UT, def. Silva/Claeson, Belmont, 8-2
Order of Finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (6,5,4,2,1,3)