Feb. 5, 2012
BY AMANDA PRUITT
Tennessee took the early lead in doubles but could not carry the momentum into singles Sunday, losing 4-1 to Illinois at Goodfriend Tennis Center.
After winning the doubles point, Tennessee (4-2) quickly found itself in a hole to open up singles play. Illinois (5-2) took all six first sets and rolled from there on multiple courts.
"There wasn't the humbleness, the competitiveness, the willingness to fight and to establish your game -- you have to establish your game," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "They need to compete and stay within that plan throughout the match and have the toughness and the discipline to do that. We didn't have that today."
The Illini tied the match 1-1 when Tim Kopinski beat Taylor Patrick 6-1, 6-2 on court 5. Patrick was playing up a court because junior Edward Jones was unable to play after sustaining an ankle injury in the Vols' 4-3 win over Mississippi last week.
Illinois increased its lead to 3-1 on a 6-2, 6-4 win by Bruno Abdelnour against sophomore Jarryd Chaplin on court 4 and a 6-1, 6-3 victory by 24th-ranked Roy Kalmanovich against freshman Brandon Fickey on court 2. Fickey was assessed a game penalty after his loss, and because his match was over, that penalty was dealt to Mikelis Libietis on court 1.
Libietis was serving up a break 4-3 in the second set against 2nd-ranked Dennis Nevolo when he took the game penalty, and suddenly, he was receiving at 4-4. With only three matches left on court, the Vols were in a position where they had to win all three to win.
With Libietis on court 1 and Hunter Reese on court 3 in second-set tiebreakers, Illinois' Ross Guignon clinched the match on court 6, beating senior Bryan Swartz 7-6 (4), 6-4.It was Swartz' fourth appearance in the singles lineup for the Vols in his career.
The two remaining matches were unfinished.
"In the end, we fought hard," Libietis said. "I thought Bry fought hard just to stay in the match to give me and Reesey a chance to play. It's a tough loss. Every loss is tough, but we need to move on."
Tennessee hosts No. 10 Duke on Saturday at 1 p.m. Admission is free as the Vols play their final match before the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.
"I'm not ready to hang up our rackets for the year," Winterbotham said. "We lost to a team that came in and competed really well. As a team, we didn't and we've got to learn from that. As coaches, we'll get together and we'll look at the video and then we'll set up a plan for next week."
Tennessee has won the doubles point in all six matches this season. Libietis and Reese were strong again at the top of the lineup, earning an 8-6 win against Nevolo and Farris Gosea ... Libietis and Reese are now 11-3 together, 5-1 in dual matches ... Chaplin and Peter Nagovnak improved to 5-0 in dual matches this year on court 3 ... The loss snapped Tennessee's five-match winning streak against the Illini. Tennessee had won 5-2 at Illinois last year.
Illinois 4, Tennessee 1
1. #125 Mikelis Libietis (UT) vs. #2 Dennis Nevolo (IU) 4-6, 6-6, unfinished
2. #24 Roy Kalmanovich (IU) def. Brandon Fickey (UT) 6-1, 6-3
3. #119 Hunter Reese (UT) vs. Stephen Hoh (IU) 2-6, 6-6, unfinished
4. Bruno Abdelnour (IU) def. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) 6-2, 6-4
5. Tim Kopinski (IU) def. Taylor Patrick (UT) 6-1, 6-2
6. Ross Guignon (IU) def. Bryan Swartz (UT) 7-6 (4), 6-4
1. #33 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) def. Dennis Nevolo/Farris Gosea (IU) 8-6
2. Brandon Fickey/Bryan Swartz (UT) vs. Tim Kopinski/Ross Guignon (IU) 8-7, unfinished
3. Peter Nagovnak/Jarryd Chaplin (UT) def. Stephen Hoh/Bruno Abdelnour (IU) 8-5
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (5,4,2,6)