March 1, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. -- The Vols lost all four key tiebreakers against Georgia, which proved to be too much of a hurdle in the SEC tennis opener Friday.
Tennessee lost the doubles point that came down to a deciding tiebreaker and three first sets in singles went the same way as the Vols dropped the match 4-1 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said in the end, Georgia handled the key points better across the boards with their fans backing them.
"When you come to Georgia, you've got a crowd that gets rambunctious, and they try and get you off your game," Winterbotham said. "We knew that coming in. We didn't handle that particularly well. Every big point, it seemed we were the passive ones."
Mikelis Libietis was the only Vol to record a point on the scoreboard. With the Vols (12-4, 0-1 SEC) trailing 3-0 and Jarryd Chaplin facing match point on court 4, Libietis closed out a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Nathan Pasha.
Chaplin saved multiple match points on his final service game when Hunter Reese lost the deciding match 7-6, 6-4 to Ben Wagland on court 2 to wrap up the 4-1 loss.
"It was one of those matches, where it seemed we had opportunities," Winterbotham said. "We were up breaks in sets and didn't close out those sets. There were other matches where we got off to a horrendous start. We lost six first sets. It's hard to win a tennis match when you lose six first sets.
"It's clear that one team handled that situation better than the other. We have to learn from that because if you want to win championships and be the best team in the country, you've got to be willing in those situations to play your best tennis."
The Vols got off to a difficult start on the road by losing the doubles point for the fifth time this season. Reese and Brandon Fickey won 8-5 on court 3 to snap their three-match losing streak, but Libietis and Chaplin lost 8-5 a few minutes later. Georgia then took the doubles point in the decider when Nathan Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux beat John Collins and Edward Jones 9-8.
In singles, the Vols lost all six first sets before digging into several of the matches. Libietis and Fickey both forced third sets, but Georgia started collecting the points they needed for victory.
The Bulldogs extended their lead to 3-0 thanks to winning play at the bottom of their lineup. Marco Nunez beat John Collins 6-4, 6-1 on court 6 and Brasseaux defeated Jones 7-6, 6-4.
The Vols continue their Georgia state road swing this weekend against Georgia Tech at noon on Sunday.
Georgia 4, Tennessee 1
1. Mikelis Libietis, UT, def. Nathan Pasha, UGA, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
2. Ben Wagland, UGA, def. Hunter Reese, UT, 7-6, 6-4
3. Brandon Fickey, UT, vs. Hernus Pieters, UT, 3-6, 6-4, 5-0
4. Jarryd Chaplin, UT, vs. Austin Smith, UGA, 6-7, 5-6
5. Garrett Brasseaux, UGA, def. Edward Jones, UT, 7-6, 6-4
6. Marco Nunez, UGA, def. John Collins, UT, 6-4, 6-1
1. Wagland/Pieters, UGA, def. Libietis/Chaplin, UT, 8-5
2. Pasha/Brasseaux, UGA, def. Collins/Jones, UT, 9-8
3. Fickey/Reese, UT, def. Diaz/Smith, UGA, 8-5
Order of Finish: Doubles (3,1,2) Singles (6,5,1,2).