March 17, 2012
With Baylor rallying late across all courts, junior Edward Jones and freshman Hunter Reese held steady to close out Tennessee's 4-3 victory Saturday.
Jones won in straight sets against Kike Grangeiro on court 5 to set up Hunter Reese's 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 clinching victory against Roberto Maytin on court 2 in the Vols' final non-conference match of the season at Barksdale Stadium.
Tennessee (9-9) recovered from two tough SEC losses against Ole Miss and Mississippi State last weekend with a hot start against Baylor, sweeping the doubles and taking first sets on four of six singles courts.
"We keep stressing effort every day in practice and that really came through for us today," Reese said. "I was playing so I didn't see everyone's match, but I felt really good, positive energy from everybody. I felt like everyone was giving good effort. That's what we need and we got the result today."
In doubles, Reese and fellow freshman Mikelis Libietis extended their winning streak to eight by defeating Maytin and Kike Grangeiro 8-6 on court 1. The No. 7 pair in the nation are now 19-4 in doubles this season, including 13-2 in dual matches.
Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham shuffled the next two doubles pairs, playing sophomore Jarryd Chaplin with junior Edward Jones and sliding Brandon Fickey to court 3 with senior Bryan Swartz. The move proved successful as both pairs won their respective matches. Jones and Chaplin won 9-7 to clinch the doubles point and Fickey and Swartz won 8-6.
Fickey was the first off the court for the Vols in singles after defeating Robert Verzaal in dominating fashion, 6-3, 6-0 to improve to 3-0 on court 3.
The Bears responded with a win from Mate Zsiga over Mikelis Libietis 6-2, 7-6 (5). Libietis was serving up 5-4 in the tiebreak but had a pair of volley errors as Zsiga -- a former ITF world top 10 junior -- won the last three points to finish the match.
"Mikelis is fighting," Winterbotham said. "He's playing very, very good players. Sometimes, I wish he would believe in himself as much as I believe in him. He's so talented and so good and working so hard. Today, he was a point away from splitting that second set. I felt really good about what he would do in the third. He's getting better and fighting."
Tennessee looked to be in good shape after winning first sets on four courts, but Baylor rallied back to force third sets on courts 2 and 4.
Jones put the Vols in the lead 3-1 with a 6-3, 7-6 victory on court 5. His straight set win swung the momentum back into the Vols' favor at the same time Reese was able to regain his form on court 2.
"I think it was really, really good for us for Ed to get that match because it put us up 3-1," Reese said. "It helped me a lot to get positive energy going again and going in the right direction."
Jones improved to 7-1 in the outdoor season, far and away the Vols' wins leader the last month.
"Ed's a year more mature," Winterbotham said. "As you can see, our players get better and Ed's a great example of that. He's completely committed to this program. This program is for tough people. Ed is getting tougher and tougher. As a coaching staff, we all see that. Not only do we have Ed for this year, but next year as well."
Baylor pulled back to within one on court 6 when Julian Bley defeated Peter Nagovnak 3-6, 4-6, but by that point, Reese was well in control on court 2.
Reese took advantage of Maytin's errors in the third set, breaking the 82nd-ranked player twice and clinched the match. He improved to 4-4 against ranked opponents.
After the match was decided, Chaplin was defeated 7-5, 4-6, 4-6 on court 4 by Diego Galeano.
The Vols play next Friday against LSU at home before going on the road against Arkansas.
Tennessee 4, Baylor 3
1. #33 Mate Zsiga (BU) def. #51 Mikelis Libietis (UT) 6-2, 7-6
2. Hunter Reese (UT) def. #82 Roberto Maytin (BU) 6-1, 4-6, 6-2
3. Brandon Fickey (UT) def. Robert Verzaal (BU) 6-3, 6-0
4. Diego Galeano (BU) def. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4
5. Edward Jones (UT) def. Kike Grangeiro (BU) 6-3, 7-6
6. Julian Bley (BU) def. Peter Nagovnak (UT) 6-3, 6-4
1. #7 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) def. Roberto Maytin/Kike Grangeiro (BU) 8-6
2. Jarryd Chaplin/Edward Jones (UT) def. Mate Zsiga/Julian Bley (BU) 9-7
3. Bryan Swartz/Brandon Fickey (UT) def. Marko Krickovic/Robert Verzaal (BU) 8-5
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (3,1,5,6,2,4)