Vols Down Pepperdine in NTI Finale

Feb. 16, 2014

HOUSTON -- The 14th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers ended the ITA National Team Indoor Championships on a high note Sunday, but it took a comeback to get there.

The Vols (10-3) dropped the doubles point for the third day in a row, but came out strong in singles to beat Pepperdine 4-1 at the Galleria Tennis and Athletic Club.

"I knew our backs were against the wall and there was nothing left to do but fight," junior Brandon Fickey said. "That's what we did on all six courts, and that was nice to see today. We didn't have anybody take the day off."

The end of the Vols lineup helped the Vols gain the lead and retake momentum. Freshman Markus Kerner was first off the court with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Alex Giannini, and junior Andrew Dromsky put the Vols up 2-1 when he beat RJ Evangelista of Pepperdine 6-4, 6-1 on court 5.

Kerner and Dromsky quickly moved to the balcony seating to join the Vols' bench players to cheer on the four remaining courts to victory.

Junior Mikelis Libietis continued to regain his form in singles as the tournament progressed. He fought off first set points to beat No. 36 Alex Sarkissian 6-5 (6), 6-4 and record his second consecutive top-40 win.

From there, it was a race to the finish between the Vol veterans Hunter Reese, Brandon Fickey and Jarryd Chaplin.

Reese led 4-1 in the third set when Chaplin earned the finishing honors, beating Pedro Leme 6-5 (3), 6-4 on court 4 to clinch the Tennessee victory.

"The atmosphere today was great," Libietis said. "Our bench players supported us a lot. They were really loud and Markus and Dromsky, when they got done with their matches, they came and supported us. We got some local fans there as well, so it was exciting."

Pepperdine was a last-minute addition to the tournament field when Duke could not travel to the tournament site because of the weather.

Tennessee now turns its attention to the outdoor season, hosting Georgia to open SEC play on March 2 at 1 p.m. The match is scheduled for Barksdale Stadium.

"As a team, we need to have better team chemistry," said Kerner, who snapped a two-match slide in singles and doubles. "We need to stay on the same page on the court and play with good energy. If we do that, then we're going to have a good season."

Tennessee 4, Pepperdine 1

1. #45 Mikelis Libietis (TENN) def. #36 Alex Sarkissian (PEP) 6-5 (8-6), 6-4
2. #17 Hunter Reese (TENN) vs. #116 David Sofaer (PEP) 6-1, 2-6, 4-1, unfinished
3. Brandon Fickey (TENN) vs. Francis Alcantara (PEP) 5-6, 6-4, 1-1, unfinished
4. Jarryd Chaplin (TENN) def. Pedro Leme (PEP) 6-5 (7-3), 6-4
5. Andrew Dromsky (TENN) def. RJ Evangelista (PEP) 6-4, 6-1
6. Markus Kerner (TENN) def. Alex Giannini (PEP) 6-2, 6-4

1. Alex Sarkissian/Francis Alcantara (PEP) def. #1 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (TENN) 6-3
2. David Sofaer/Tom Hill (PEP) def. Jarryd Chaplin/Brandon Fickey (TENN) 6-4
3. Andrew Dromsky/Markus Kerner (TENN) def. Alex Giannini/Pedro Leme (PEP) 6-4

Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (6,5,1,4)





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