Feb. 2, 2013
URBANA, Ill. -- The 15th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers returned to Illinois for the second time in eight days and earned the same result Saturday night at Atkins Tennis Center.
A 4-0 victory.
The Vols (10-0) secured a nailbiting doubles point that came down to a tiebreaker on court 3 to start the match and seized momentum early in singles in front of a hostile road crowd.
In last week's 4-0 win over the Illini (3-3) to start the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, the Vols and Illinois split first sets before Tennessee eventually recorded the shutout.
This time around, Tennessee won five of six first sets in singles, and the pieces started falling into place quickly. Junior Jarryd Chaplin and sophomore Mikelis Libietis picked up straight-set wins before John Collins clinched the match on court 5 with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Brian Page.
"We came out a lot more relaxed," Chaplin said. "Personally, I had a game plan and just executed that, and I had no doubt that my teammates would do the same thing. Sure enough, we wound up with the same result as last week, and it was awesome.
The doubles point came down the wire, but it did not unfold that way initially.
Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon handed Collins and Edward Jones their second loss in dual match play, 8-2 on court 2. Libietis and Chaplin, the 26th-ranked team in the country, evened the doubles point a minute later by defeating Stephen Hoh and Bruno Abdelnour 8-3.
On court 3, it was all Tennessee to start the match. Sophomores Hunter Reese and Brandon Fickey led 5-0 at one point, but Illinois' Jared Hiltzik and Farris Gosea surged back with their teammates and crowd behind them.
Reese was eventually broken serving for the doubles point at 7-6, and the match went into a tiebreaker, which the Vol duo eventually won 7-4.
"The crowd really got into it, which was awesome," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "Our guys need this experience. It was a great effort by their team and crowd to get us on edge. I'm really proud of Brandon and Hunter. When they needed to step up and hit shots under pressure, they did."
Doubles point in hand, the Vols took care of business in singles against Illinois, a team that was coming off a 4-3 victory over fifth-ranked Duke the night before.
Chaplin was first off the court with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Kopinski at the No. 3 position. Libietis followed suit with a 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 1 against Hoh to put the Vols up 3-0 and set up Collins' clinching point on court 5.
"I think we learned from last week," Winterbotham said. "We came here with a high energy doubles point and went to the locker room and didn't calm ourselves down enough. Whether we won the doubles point or not, we were in a great position to win the match. We're not dependent on winning doubles points to winning matches, which is another good lesson for us."
Reese and Jones had also won their first sets on courts 2 and 6 respectively. The remaining matches were suspended when the Vols secured the team victory at 4-0.
Of Tennessee's 10 wins this year, nine have come in shutout form. The Vols continue their two-month road swing next week with matches at Wake Forest and Duke.
#15 Tennessee 4, #25 Illinois 0
1. #9 Mike Libietis (TENN) def. Stephen Hoh (ILL) 6-4, 6-3
2. #114 Jared Hiltzik (ILL) vs. #40 Hunter Reese (TENN) 3-6, 3-4, unfinished
3. Jarryd Chaplin (TENN) def. Tim Kopinski (ILL) 6-3, 6-2
4. Bruno Abdelnour (ILL) vs. Brandon Fickey (TENN) 7-5, 3-4, unfinished
5. John Collins (TENN) def. Brian Page (ILL) 7-5, 6-3
6. Ross Guignon (ILL) vs. Edward Jones (TENN) 4-6, 3-3, unfinished
1. Mike Libietis/Jarryd Chaplin (TENN) def. Stephen Hoh/Bruno Abdelnour (ILL) 8-3
2. Tim Kopinski/Ross Guignon (ILL) def. Edward Jones/John Collins (TENN) 8-2
3. Hunter Reese/Brandon Fickey (TENN) def. Jared Hiltzik/Farris Gosea (ILL) 8-7 (7-5)
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (3,1,5)