Jan. 26, 2014
BY: ROBBY VERONESI
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- According to Tennessee tennis head coach Sam Winterbotham, Vol Tennis should not be like television.
No. 6 UT (6-0) ended up getting a win over No. 30 Virginia Commonwealth (5-2), 4-0, at the Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center in Knoxville Sunday, but the win came with a bit more drama than the eighth-year coach would like.
"Television wants to have excited moments all the time," said Winterbotham. "It wants to be emotional (and) it wants to keep everyone's attention. What we as a team are trying to do is to have no drama. We just want to go about our business.
"These guys work their tails off. They're a great, great group and once we cut out all the stuff that doesn't matter, then we actually could be really good."
It was not always pretty, but the Big Orange took care of business, clinching a ticket to Houston, Texas, where they will participate in the 2014 ITA National Indoor Championships.
While the goal of the weekend was ultimately to earn a trip to Houston, Winterbotham realizes that the Vols still have room for improvement.
"I think we can say we're competitive in every position," said Winterbotham. "We're clearly not playing with the mentality that is going to allow us to be successful in these next couple weeks. We've got a couple of tough matches on the road in Oklahoma, where they're going to get battle-tested."
Tennessee won the doubles point in convincing fashion, led by the pairs on courts one and three. Andrew Dromsky and Markus Kerner pushed their record together to 6-0 in the dual match season with a 6-1 victory. That result was soon followed up by an identical score by the No. 1 pair in the country, Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese.
In the singles matches, the Vols earned three first-set victories on courts two, four and six. Those three courts also won their second set, resulting in three straight sets.
Reese, the No. 16 player in the country, took care of VCU's Michal Voscek, 6-1, 6-3, but then the drama began. The redshirt junior earned his team-leading 17th singles win of the season, which is good for the best start in his career.
"Everyone should feel like they want to win, to be one of the points on the board," said Reese. "We're starting to get individuals playing really well. We just got to get everyone on the same page, and then I think we'll be in great shape."
After taking his first set 6-0 over Vuc Velickovic, Kerner found himself in a 5-5 second set tiebreaker, down 4-1.
On the next point, Kerner challenged the call with the official, who proceeded to overturn the call. This was the fourth overturned call against Velickovic, resulting in an awarded game to Kerner, who won the match by default.
"The first set was the best I've played so far for Tennessee," said Kerner. "In the second set, I lost a bit of energy. I wasn't that aggressive. I was lucky this time."
The No. 6 team in the country secured the victory soon after, when Jarryd Chaplin won 6-3, 6-4 on court four. The win extended the Australian's individual winning streak to four matches, thanks in part to the positive energy created by playing in between Reese and Kerner.
"I'm very fortunate playing in the middle of these two," said Chaplin. "Along that bank of courts, there was an incredible energy going on. I was able to feed off them whenever I was in a tight position."
The Vols will head down to Houston in time for the start of ITAs on Feb. 14, but will first play four matches. Next up for Tennessee will be the first road matches of the season, featuring two tough tests at No. 51 Oklahoma State and No. 24 Tulsa.
#6 Tennessee 4, #30 Virginia Commonwealth 0
1. #34 Mikelis Libietis (UT) vs. Alexis Huegas (VCU) 1-6, 6-3, 0-1, unfinished
2. #16 Hunter Reese (UT) def. Michal Voscek (VCU) 6-1, 6-3
3. Brandon Fickey (UT) vs. Alejandro Argente (VCU) 3-6, 5-3, unfinished
4. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) def. Jean Baptiste Mateo (VCU) 6-3, 6-4
5. Andrew Dromsky (UT) vs. Wilder Pimentel (VCU) 4-6, 6-3, 0-0, unfinished
6. Markus Kerner (UT) def. Vuc Velickovic (VCU) 6-0, 6-5
1. #1 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) def. Michal Voscek/Vuc Velickovic (VCU) 6-1
2. #28 Jarryd Chaplin/Brandon Fickey (UT) vs. Alexis Huegas/Jean Baptiste Mateo (VCU) 4-3, unfinished
3. Andrew Dromsky/Markus Kerner (UT) def. Alejandro Argente/Wilder Pimentel (VCU) 6-1
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (2,6,4)