Feb. 26, 2012
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The Tennessee Volunteers accomplished their goal of three team wins at the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic.
The Vols gained momentum through singles to beat Boise State 4-1 on Sunday and finish the weekend undefeated, but as for the tournament title, it will not be decided for another two weeks.
After the evening matches, officials announced Tennessee and Mississippi State will play for the Blue Gray trophy when the two teams face in Knoxville for their previous scheduled Southeastern Conference on March 11 at 1 p.m. The two teams finished with the fewest individual losses in round robin play.
The 21st-ranked Vols (7-6), with three freshmen atop the lineup, defeated 66th-ranked Clemson 4-3 and 23rd-ranked Texas Tech 4-0 on Saturday before the win Sunday against Boise State.
"We came here hoping to win the event and go undefeated," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "I'm really proud of the team. This was a great way to move forward. Three very tough matches and three very good performances. We are growing and growing, and as a coaching staff, it's been really good to see."
The Vols got the doubles point thanks to a late-match recovery on court 2. Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese strung together their third consecutive win, beating James Meredith and Nathan Sereke 8-3 on court 1. Jarryd Chaplin and Brandon Fickey fought off two match points and rallied to win the final four games to beat Scott Sears and Andy Bettles 9-7 to clinch the point.
"It was really good that we got a doubles match under our belt too," Winterbotham said. "Because of the rain delay, we played singles first Saturday those two matches. It was good to get the doubles and feel that dynamic before conference."
The Vols moved into singles play where they took three first sets from Boise State.
The Broncos briefly tied the score 1-1 when No. 51 Damian Hume defeated Fickey 6-2, 6-1 on court 2. A few minutes later, Libietis took out No. 34 James Meredith 6-3, 6-1. It was Libietis' second top-40 win in the last two days, and the quick win gave the Vols the lead for good.
Chaplin overcame a slow start to give the Vols a third point. He trailed 4-2 in the first set before rattling off 10 straight games to beat Sears 6-4, 6-0 on court 4. Jones then completed a 3-0 week in singles by beating Garrett Patton 6-2, 6-3 to clinch the match on court 5.
Reese and Taylor Patrick had both lost their first sets on courts 3 and 6 respectively, but the two Vols were up a break in the second sets when the match was clinched.
After Sunday's full schedule of matches, three teams -- Tennessee, Mississippi State and Auburn -- finished the Blue Gray with undefeated records in round robin play. The two tournament finalists were then determined by the fewest number of individual matches lost. Mississippi State lost one match, Tennessee lost four and Auburn lost five.
Whether or not the Vols end up with the tournament title, Winterbotham said the team has once again enjoyed its experience at the Blue Gray. In the annual event, players are housed by host families, who cheer on their players in every match.
Tennessee won the title in 2009 when the event was a 16-team tournament.
"The Blue Gray is a special tourney," Winterbotham said. "We've always enjoyed the event. The people of Montgomery really support it and make it a special event and we're proud to be a part of that."
The Vols begin SEC play next week. They play on the road at Florida on Friday and South Carolina on Sunday.
1. #81 Mikelis Libietis (UT) def. #34 James Meredith (BSU), 6-3, 6-1
2. #51 Damian Hume (BSU) def. Brandon Fickey (UT), 6-2, 6-1
3. Hunter Reese (UT) vs. Andy Bettles (BSU), 4-6, 4-2 DNF
4. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) def. Scott Sears (BSU), 6-4, 6-0
5. Edward Jones (UT) def. Garrett Patton (BSU), 6-2, 6-3
6. Taylor Patrick (UT) vs. Nathan Sereke (BSU), 3-6, 4-2
1. #41 Libietis/Reese (UT) def. #50 Meredith/Sereke (BSU), 8-3
2. Chaplin/Fickey (UT) def. Sears/Bettles (BSU), 9-7
3. Jones/Swartz (UT) vs. Hume/Pogostkin (BSU), 7-6 DNF
Order of Finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (2,1,4,5).