MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The Tennessee Volunteers collected two wins Saturday to stay in the title hunt at the annual Blue Gray National Tennis Classic.
After a tight 4-3 victory over Clemson that came down to the doubles point, the Vols rolled to their first shutout of the season in the evening, beating No. 23 Texas Tech 4-0 at the O'Connor Tennis Center.
Tennessee (6-6) plays Boise State on Sunday at 10 a.m. Central to conclude round robin play. Through two rounds, the Vols are one of three unbeaten teams, joining fellow SEC schools Mississippi State and Auburn. The top two teams will face tomorrow in a doubles match to determine the champion.
Tennessee won the Blue Gray when it was still a 16-team format in 2009.
Because of the rain postponing Friday's matches, singles was played first during the Saturday matches, and that was all Tennessee needed against Texas Tech. The Vols (6-6) won four first sets for the second time this season and collected straight set wins on those courts.
Freshman Mikelis Libietis was first off the courts with his best career ranked win, beating No. 33 Gonzalo Escobar 6-4, 6-1 at the top of the lineup. Sophomore Jarryd Chaplin followed a few minutes later by beating Francisco Zambon 6-3, 6-2 on court 4. Next to him, junior Edward Jones got his second win of the day with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Raphael Pfister.
Jones snapped a five-match losing streak with his two victories against Clemson and Texas Tech, one of four Vols to do so. He said the move to outdoor tennis has been a welcome transition.
"I think it's been a nice change coming outdoors," Jones said. "When the sun's out and it's not too windy, that's what tennis is. We've only been outdoors for a week now. this was our first two matches, but so far so good. Hopefully onwards and upwards."
Redshirt freshman Hunter Reese providing the clinching point for Tennessee on court 3. In a match that featured seven breaks of serve in the second set, Reese served out a 6-3, 6-3 win against Garcia.
Because the match was clinched, doubles was not played.
The Vols were able to snap their five-match losing streak against Clemson in a match that came down to the wire with a pair of doubles tiebreaker wins. While note a decisive win, the outcome gave the Vols confidence heading into the evening against Texas Tech.
"Our first match this morning, we all knew that we needed a win," Jones said. "We knew it was a winnable match. Even though it wasn't the prettiest match, but we scrapped it out at the end. It was very close, but we came out with a win, which gave us more confidence this evening."
Tennessee 4, Texas Tech 0
1. #81 Mikelis Libietis (UT) def. #33 Gonzalo Escobar (TT), 6-4, 6-1
2. Brandon Fickey (UT) vs. Raony Carvalho (TT), 3-6, 6-3, 2-4 DNF
3. Hunter Reese (UT) def. Rafael Garcia (TT), 6-3, 6-3
4. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) def. Francisco Zambon (TT), 6-3, 6-2
5. Edward Jones (UT) def. Raphael Pfister (TT), 6-4, 6-2
6. Taylor Patrick (UT) def. Gabriel Wanderley (TT), 3-6, 7-6, 0-0 DNF
Order of Finish: Singles (1,4,5,3).