Feb. 18, 2012
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Facing UCLA for the third time in as many years at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, Tennessee could not get the win this time around.
The Vols lost the doubles point in a tiebreaker and lost a trio of straight-set matches to lose to UCLA 4-0 in consolation at Boar's Head Sports Club.
With the doubles point coming down wire and the Vols (4-5) ahead or on serve on the remaining three courts, the final score did not reflect the closeness of the match.
Sophomore Jarryd Chaplin was a game away from winning on court 4 and Brandon Fickey was up a break in the third set against No. 70 Clay Thompson when Maxime Tabatruong clinched the match for UCLA by beating Edward Jones 6-2, 6-4 on court 5. Mikelis Libietis had just started his third set against No. 39 Nick Meister atop the lineup.
"We're getting better. I can see it as a coach," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "Mikelis is maturing. Jarryd Chaplin is maturing. Those two guys are stepping into roles and we're asking them to do things they're not necessarily comfortable doing. That's the high point.
"Brandon Fickey was up a break in the third against a very good tennis player. yesterday, he was competing extremely well against one of the best players in the country. Brandon's doing well. We're seeing positives, but we need to win."
In doubles, both teams split matches on courts 1 and 3. Freshmen Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese earning their 12th win of the year together at the top of the lineup, beating Meister and Puget 8-6, but the Bruins took command early on court three with Warren Hardie and Clay Thompson winning 8-6 against Jarryd Chaplin and Peter Nagovnak.
Everything came down to court 2, and UCLA's Alex Brigham and Marcos Giron took the doubles point in a tiebreaker 9-8 (6) against Fickey and Jones. The Vol duo had one match point in the tiebreaker at 6-5 but Jones double faulted.
"I thought 1 doubles came out really well," Winterbotham said. "That was certainly the highlight of doubles. We had match point on 2. I'm seeing improvement but we're not taking our opportunities right now against good teams. UCLA hung tough and played well at 3. We gave up a few too many points at 2 to really deserve that point."
UCLA took four of six first sets in singles with Libietis and Chaplin the only Vols winning their sets on courts 1 and 4 respectively. The Bruins took a 2-0 lead early when Gir on defeated Reese 6-3, 6-3 on court 3.
The Bruins added their final two points in the lower half of the lineup. Dennis Mkrtchian beat Taylor Patrick 7-6, 6-1 on court 6 and Tabatruong clinched it against Jones.
Tennessee was in good shape on the remaining courts when the matches were abandoned. Chaplin's opponent, Puget, took a medical timeout with the Vol up 7-5, 5-2 on court 4. Fickey had lost the first set against Thompson 4-6 but had rallied to take the second set 6-3 and was up in the third 2-0.
Libietis had split sets with Meister, ranked No. 39 nationally. They had just started the third set when the match was called.
Tennessee plays Pepperdine to conclude the tournament Sunday at 9 a.m. The match marks the end of the indoor season for the Vols.
"They definitely came out today and they were not accepting losing," Winterbotham said. "Losing is not acceptable to this team. It's not acceptable to this coaching staff. Tomorrow we have another opportunity against a great team to get better. Hopefully tomorrow we can give that same amount of effort in a winning performance."
UCLA 4, Tennessee 0
1. #81 Mikelis Libietis, UT, vs. #39 Nick Meister, UCLA, 6-4, 3-6, 0-0 DNF
2. Brandon Fickey, UT, vs. #70 Clay Thompson, UCLA, 4-6, 6-3, 2-0 DNF
3. #108 Marcos Giron, UCLA, def. Hunter Reese, UT, 6-3, 6-3
4. Jarryd Chaplin, UT, vs. #104 Adrien Puget, UCLA, 7-5, 5-2 DNF
5. Maxime Tabatruong, UCLA, def. Edward Jones, UT, 6-2, 6-4
6. Dennis Mkrtchian, UCLA, def. Taylor Patrick, UT, 7-6, 6-1
1. #41 Libietis/Reese, UT, def. Meister/Puget, UCLA, 8-6
2. Brigham/Giron, UCLA, def. Fickey/Jones, UT, 9-8 (6)
3. Hardie/Thompson, UCLA, def. Chaplin/Nagovnak, UT, 8-6
Order of Finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (3,6,5).