March 16, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Playing on three indoor courts, Tennessee's upperclassmen led the way at the top of the lineup Sunday in a 4-0 shutout over the South Carolina.
After winning a closely contested doubles point, the 14th-ranked Vols (13-6, 2-3 SEC) put their veterans out on the top three courts to start singles. They ensured the Vols kept the momentum.
Junior Hunter Reese collected his first SEC win at the No. 1 position, beating No. 80 Tsvetan Mihov 6-1, 6-1. He was off court in a hurry; not even Mikelis Libietis had finished a set on court 2 by the time Reese was finished.
Libietis and Brandon Fickey both won up-and-down first sets 7-6 on courts 2 and 3. They both pulled ahead early in the second set and maintained their leads. Libietis beat Andrew Adams 7-6 (6), 6-3 to put the Vols up 3-0.
"I thought Mikelis did a great job today," Winterbotham said. "In a tough match, he was just finding himself and competing and getting through the match. Those oftentimes are the kinds of matches that can set you on a tear. You struggle through it and find ways to win. You get confidence."
Fickey, who has been limited by shoulder and back injuries the last two seasons, recorded his first SEC singles win since his freshman year to clinch the Vols' victory. The Knoxville native beat Thiago Pinheiro 7-6 (6), 6-3 at No. 3.
"I'm proud of how Brandon has played the last few matches," Winterbotham said. "He's really playing the way he can play. He's been really helpful to the rest of the guys, for the rest of the guys to see him competing the way he is. It definitely lifts everybody up."
In doubles, Dromsky and Kerner lost 8-0 but Tennessee had momentum on the remaining courts. Fickey and Jarryd Chaplin won 8-4 on court 3, setting up Libietis and Reese's 8-6 win at the top of the lineup. Libietis and Reese are now 5-0 in SEC play and 25-3 overall this season.
"Today's match had two teams that really wanted to win," Winterbotham said. "Players on both sides really gave everything they had. We can build upon this performance."
The Vols have a split home and road weekend coming up. The team travels to Vanderbilt on Friday and hosts Kentucky on Sunday.
Tennessee 4, South Carolina 0
1. #22 Hunter Reese, UT, def. #80 Tsvetan Mihov, SC, 6-1, 6-1
2. #34 Mikelis Libietis, UT, def. Andrew Adams, SC, 7-6, 6-3
3. Brandon Fickey, UT, def. Thiago Pinheiro, SC, 7-6, 6-3
4. Jarryd Chaplin, UT, vs. Chip Cox, SC, 4-6, 1-0 dnf
5. Andrew Dromsky, UT, vs. Kyle Koch, SC, dnp
6. Markus Kerner, UT, vs. #125 Andrew Schafer, SC, dnp
1. #2 Libietis/Reese, UT, def. Mihov/Cox, SC, 8-6
2. Koch/Adams, SC, def. Dromsky/Kerner, UT, 8-0
3. Fickey/Chaplin, UT, def. Pinheiro/Schafer, SC, 8-4
Order of Finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (1,2,3).