March 4, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The Tennessee Volunteers braved the windy elements Sunday to earn their first conference win of the year on the road against South Carolina.
Sophomore Jarryd Chaplin clinched the match on court 4 with a three-set victory as the Vols went on to defeat 22nd-ranked South Carolina 5-2 at the Columbia Tennis Courts.
Tennessee (8-7, 1-1 SEC) rebounded from its 4-3 loss to 10th-ranked Florida on Friday by starting out of the gates quickly against the Gamecocks. The Vols took the doubles point and split three of the first six sets.
Redshirt freshman Hunter Reese and junior Edward Jones both won their second singles matches of the weekend to set up Chaplin's opportunity to end the match 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 against Chip Cox in the cold, swirling winds that drove balls in and out of play at will in South Carolina's new facility.
"The conditions were awful. I'll say that now," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "We didn't mention it once during the day. I think both teams did a very good job of just competing in the conditions. No one was complaining, whining. The wind was pretty severe. I'm really proud of that with our guys certainly.
"It was a hard loss to swallow Friday purely because we didn't do things we worked so hard to do. We didn't have the attitude we worked so hard to establish up and down the lineup. Today we did a much better job of that."
In doubles, freshmen Reese and Mikelis Libietis improved to 10-2 in dual matches at the No. 1 position. The 17th-ranked team beat unranked Nick Jones and Kyle Koch 8-2. With an array of good volleys by Brandon Fickey in the final game, he and Chaplin clinched the doubles point by defeating Cox and Ivan Machado 8-6 on court 2.
Reese extended Tennessee's lead to 2-0, blowing past Machado 6-1, 6-1 on court 3. Reese used the windy elements to his advantage, getting many points off lobs around the court on his way to his career-best fourth consecutive win.
The Gamecocks closed the lead to 2-1 when Andrew Adams beat Fickey 6-4, 6-0 on court 2, but Tennessee regained momentum a few minutes later. Edward Jones stayed unbeaten in the outdoor season, earning a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Koch on court 5.
Chaplin broke Cox early in the third set and held the rest of the way to provide the clinching point for the Vols. The sophomore rebounded from his straight set loss on Friday at Florida to beat Cox 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
After the match was clinched, junior Taylor Patrick forced a third set but lost in a super tiebreaker to Thiago Pinheiro 6-3, 5-7, [10-3]. The Vols' afternoon ended on a winning note, however.
On court 1, Libietis rebounded from losing the first set but found himself in trouble in the third when Nick Jones served for the match at 5-4 in the third. Libietis fought off three match points and broke back on a pair of forehand errors by Jones. Power in his first serves, Libietis cruised in the tiebreaker minutes later to beat the 92nd-ranked Jones 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (2).
Libietis, ranked 36th nationally, is now on a four-match winning streak, all of them against ranked opponents.
The Vols return home Friday after three weeks of tournament and road matches. They host a familiar foe to open home SEC play: Mississippi at 1 p.m. Tennessee then plays Mississippi State at 1 p.m. Sunday in a match that will determine the winner of the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic.
Tennessee 4, South Carolina 3
1. #36 Mikelis Libietis (UT) def. #92 Nick Jones (SC) 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (2)
2. Andrew Adams (SC) def. Brandon Fickey (UT) 6-4, 6-0
3. #95 Hunter Reese (UT) def. Ivan Machado (SC) 6-1, 6-1
4. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) def. Chip Cox (SC) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
5. Edward Jones (UT) def. Kyle Koch (SC) 6-3, 6-2
6. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) def. Taylor Patrick (UT) 6-3, 5-7, 1-0 (3)
1. #17 Libietis/Reese (UT) def. N. Jones/Koch (SC) 8-2
2. Fickey/Chaplin (UT) def. Cox/Machado (SC) 8-6
3. E. Jones/Swartz (UT) led Adams/Pinheiro (SC) 6-5
Order of Finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (3,2,5,4,6,1).