Vols Lose to USC in NTI Opener

Feb. 14, 2014

HOUSTON -- The 14th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers had opportunities Friday but lost to third-ranked Southern California 4-1 to start the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.

The Vols (9-2) dropped the doubles point for the first time this season. In singles, the Vols won two of the first six sets but started to turn the tide on the remaining courts before the match was clinched.

Junior Hunter Reese was off the court with a decisive 6-1, 6-2 win over No. 16 Yannick Hanfmann to briefly tie the match at 1-1, but Southern California got the points they needed in to finish the match with a trio of straight-set victories.

Michael Grant defeated Markus Kerner on court 6, seventh-ranked Ray Sarmiento beat Mikelis Libietis on court 1 and Connor Farren clinched the victory with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Jarryd Chaplin on court 4.

"It's a case of coming out emotionally too high," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "They wanted to win so badly that they just did not play how they normally play. They tried to play at a higher level but didn't need to. That's part of it. It's one of two things: it's either insecurity or immaturity. We need to learn from that, so it doesn't happen again."

The Vols play either Texas A&M or Baylor on Saturday at 7 p.m. Eastern in consolation. They will play another match on Sunday as well.

"It's clear we're a good team," Winterbotham said. "We match up against pretty much every team in this tournament. We don't have to play any differently than how we do. We just have to play hard. We didn't do a good job of that today."

Tennessee started out with a rare loss in the doubles point to start the match. Kerner and Andrew Dromsky lost for the first time this season 6-2 on court 3. Chaplin and Brandon Fickey were lost 6-3 on court 2 to end the doubles point while Libietis and Reese were ahead in a tiebreaker on court 1.

In singles, Tennessee won just two first sets but were competitive across the courts.

Reese was only Vol to finish his match with a win -- racking up his 20th win of the year in the process -- but Fickey and Dromsky were both very much on a winning track when Southern California ended the match.

Dromsky had won his first-set tiebreaker over Max De Vroome on court 5 and was on serve 4-3 in the second set, having not dropped his service game the whole match. Fickey lost his first set in a tiebreaker on court 3 but was up a break 4-3 over Roberto Quiroz.

"The disappointing thing for us is that the guys that got beat didn't get beaten playing their best tennis," Winterbotham said. "That's what we've got to correct."

USC 4, Tennessee 1

1. #7 Ray Sarmiento, USC, def. #45 Mikelis Libietis, UT, 6-1, 6-5
2. #17 Hunter Reese, UT, def. #16 Yannick Hanfmann, USC, 6-1, 6-2
3. Brandon Fickey, UT, vs. Roberto Quiroz, USC, 5-6, 4-3 DNF
4. Connor Farren, USC, def. Jarryd Chaplin, UT, 6-2, 6-4
5. Andrew Dromsky, UT, vs. Max De Vroome, USC, 6-5, 4-3 DNF
6. Michael Grant, UT, def. Markus Kerner, UT, 6-4, 6-1

1. #1 Libietis/Reese, UT vs. #35 Sarmiento/Hanfmann, USC, 5-5 DNF
2. Quiroz/Farren, USC, def. Chaplin/Fickey, UT, 6-3
3. Johnson/De Vroome, USC, def. Dromsky/Kerner, UT, 6-2

Order of Finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (2,6,1,4).





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