March 4, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Braving the cold elements outside Tuesday, the 11th-ranked Vols captured a 4-1 victory over Georgia Tech at Barksdale Stadium.
Tennessee (11-4) won doubles point for the first time in five matches to take a 1-0 lead and came out strong in singles. The Vols won four first sets and picked up singles wins from Hunter Reese on court 2, Mikelis Libietis on court 1 and Bartosz Sawicki on court 6.
"I think coach (Chris) Woodruff said it best after the match: `That's what Tennessee tennis is all about.'" Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "We're a family. We play for each other.
"On a very cold day, it was hard to expect there to be much of a crowd, but the intensity was great and the passion for each other was great."
The teams elected to play the match outdoors at Barksdale Stadium, where temperatures were below 40 degrees much of the afternoon.
After winning the doubles point, the Vols rolled out quickly to take four lopsided sets. Georgia Tech (6-4) started climbing back into the match before the Vols regained momentum for good.
Reese was the first off court for the Vols, beating Nathan Rakkit 6-3, 6-4 on court 2.
After the match, Reese joked that he wanted to win as fast as possible to return to the heat indoors. In seriousness, he was glad to log another win.
Reese is 9-0 this spring but had not finished a match since a Feb. 14 win over 10th-ranked Yannick Hanfmann of Southern California. He had incomplete matches in five of the last six team events.
"It's not a big deal to not finish, but it's been three weeks since I won a match," Reese said. "It was important for me to remember what winning was like and how to close out a match."
Georgia Tech got its only point of the match on court 5. Freshman Will Showers defeated UT freshman Markus Kerner 6-2, 6-3.
Libietis put the Vols up 3-1 with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory at the top of the lineup over Carlos Benito.
Sawicki, who has been in and out of the lineup this spring, provided the clincher for the Vols. He came back from a break down in the second set to beat Anish Sharma 6-1, 7-6 (3) on court 6.
"The first set was pretty good and I played really good doubles with Jarryd today," Sawicki said. "I was serving well. Then I got a little loose in the second set. I lost confidence a little bit ... but when it was in the tiebreaker, I knew what I needed to do to win."
When Sawicki clinched the team match, Dromsky was potentially jut two points away from victory on court 4. He took the first set off Cole Fiegel 6-1 and was locked in a second-set tiebreaker at 6-6 when play was suspended. Chaplin was starting the third set on court 3.
"We were really tough out there, and that' s probably the first time we shown that as a group in what was probably the most adverse conditions we'll face all year, so it was a super effort," Winterbotham said.
Tuesday's match marked the end of the Vols' non-conference schedule. During that time, Tennessee went 3-0 against teams in the ACC, beating Georgia Tech, Duke and Wake Forest.
Now the Vols' full attention for the next month will be on the SEC schedule. Tennessee hosts Mississippi on Friday at 2 p.m. and Mississippi State on Sunday at 1 p.m. Admission to both matches is free.
"That needs to be the norm, just going out and competing and having everyone do it," Reese said. "Obviously, I'm happy with that. We need to do that against the SEC, against the top-10 schools we're going to play week in, week out."
Tennessee 4, Georgia Tech 1
1. #32 Mikelis Libietis (UT) def. Carlos Benito (GT-M) 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
2. #21 Hunter Reese (UT) def. Nathan Rakitt (GT-M) 6-3, 6-4
3. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) vs. Eduardo Segura (GT-M) 5-7, 6-2, 0-0, unfinished
4. Andrew Dromsky (UT) vs. Cole Fiegel (GT-M) 6-1, 6-6 (6-6), unfinished
5. Will Showers (GT-M) def. Markus Kerner (UT) 6-2, 6-3
6. Bartosz Sawicki (UT) def. Anish Sharma (GT-M) 6-1, 7-6 (7-3)
1. #2 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) def. Carlos Benito/Eduardo Segura (GT-M) 8-5
2. Andrew Dromsky/Markus Kerner (UT) vs. Casey Kay/Nathan Rakitt (GT-M) 7-7, unfinished
3. Bartosz Sawicki/Jarryd Chaplin (UT) def. Cole Fiegel/Will Showers (GT-M) 8-1 Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (2,5,1,6)