March 9, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.--The Parramatta Eels of the National Rugby League in Australia and New Zealand won their first game of the current season Sunday just outside of Sydney. On Sunday afternoon across the globe in Knoxville, one of the Eels's biggest supporters helped snap a two-match SEC losing streak.
Tennessee senior Jarryd Chaplin earned the third of three singles wins by Vol veteran players, defeating Jordan Angus of No. 17 Mississippi State (12-6, 2-2 SEC), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, and clinching the match for the No. 13 Vols, 4-3.
Chaplin picked up his first win since Feb. 16 vs. Pepperdine, and his first win in SEC play, improving to 12-12 on the season. Sunday's win served as a nice rebound game for Chaplin, who lost in straight sets against Mississippi Friday.
"It's a step in the right direction and it's a big improvement from Friday," said Chaplin. "After the fashion we lost in on Friday, I had no doubt that we were going to come out better than on Friday. We earned that win today."
Tennessee (12-5, 1-2 SEC) got out to a solid start in doubles play, taking the 1-0 lead on courts one and three. No. 2 Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese improved to 20-4 all-time in SEC play with an 8-5 win over MSU's top pair of Malte Stropp and Angus. Immediately afterwards, the pair of Andrew Dromsky and Markus Kerner earned a similar 8-5 victory over Zach White and Rashib Agarwal.
After dropping four singles matches against the Rebels on Friday, the Vols came out of the intermission with better energy, but the Bulldogs tied the score at one apiece after Tassilo Schmid swept Bartosz Sawicki, 6-3, 6-0.
MSU went up 2-1 after Brandon Fickey dropped a 6-4, 6-1 straight set decision to Zach White. The Big Orange put up their first singles victory since Tuesday when No. 32 Libietis earned his first SEC win of 2014, defeating No. 71 Stropp, 7-5, 6-2.
"I just felt confident," said Libietis. "It helps when you know these guys have experience and know how to close out matches. It's great and I think it's going to be a confidence boost for the younger guys as well."
UT retook the lead, 3-2, when No. 21 Reese followed his doubles partner in defeating a ranked Bulldog, using a stretch of 11 straight points to defeat No. 63 Florian Lakat, 7-6 (1), 6-0. MSU tied the score back up at three when Agarwal defeated Dromsky, 6-1, 7-6 (4). Then, all the attention shifted to the Australian senior on court four.
Chaplin went a break up midway through the third set, 3-1, to give Chaplin a lead and then followed that up by holding his serve to go up 4-1. After Angus took two of the next three games, Chaplin was up an advantage before slamming the eventual match-winner.
"We just have to remind them that this is fun," said Head Coach Sam Winterbotham. "When you're struggling and you're trying so hard, you can't beat yourself up in that situation. Today was fun. At the end, I was laughing and enjoying watching Mikelis and Hunter step up and to see Jarryd at the end there is awesome."
Tennessee will now hit the road for the first time in conference play, heading to Gainesville on Friday to play No. 26 Florida before traveling to the Palmetto State Sunday to take on No. 40 South Carolina.
#13 Tennessee 4, #17 Mississippi State 3
1. #32 Mikelis Libietis (UT) def. #71 Malte Stropp (MSU) 7-5, 6-2
2. #21 Hunter Reese (UT) def. #63 Florian Lakat (MSU) 7-6 (7-1), 6-0
3. Zach White (MSU) def. Brandon Fickey (UT) 6-4, 6-1
4. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) def. Jordan Angus (MSU) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
5. Rishab Aqarwal (MSU) def. Andrew Dromsky (UT) 6-1, 7-6 (7-4)
6. Tassillo Schmid (MSU) def. Bartosz Sawicki (UT) 6-3, 6-0
1. #2 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) def. Malte Stropp/Jordan Angus (MSU) 8-5
2. Jarryd Chaplin/Brandon Fickey (UT) vs. Florian Lakat/Tassillo Schmid (MSU) 6-5, unfinished
3. Andrew Dromsky/Markus Kerner (UT) def. Zach White/Rishab Aqarwal (MSU) 8-5
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (6,3,1,2,5,4)