March 30, 2012
Six hours after the scheduled start time, Tennessee finally defeated in-state rival Vanderbilt 5-2 at Goodfriend Tennis Center.
Despite losing the doubles point for the second time in as many matches, the Vols (12-9, 4-3 SEC) again found a way to win in singles. Tennessee and Vanderbilt split three of six first sets to start singles, but the Vols rallied to win five matches.
"We competed well on all six courts," Libietis said. "We played unbelievable. The effort was there. The crowd was there -- that helped a lot. I'm happy for the win."
Sophomore Jarryd Chaplin and junior Edward Jones both won in straight sets to tie the match at 2-2, leaving Libietis, Reese and Swartz to decide the team outcome in their three set matches. The three remaining Vols were each up a break when rain, which had delayed play off and on all afternoon, finally soaked the courts enough that play was moved indoors.
Making his return to the national rankings at No. 92, Reese broke freshman Gonzales Austin at 2-2 in the final set and held out the rest of the way to win 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, putting the Vols up 3-2.
Libietis clinched the match for the Vols 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-3 against No. 47 Charlie Jones on court 1 with the vocal student crowd backing him.
After the match was decided, Swartz defeated Joe Dorn 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4 on court 6 in the senior's second career singles match in the SEC season.
Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham was pleased the with three Vols who were able to maintain focus despite a several lengthy delays late in the match, including one with Libietis and Reese early in the third set and Swartz serving for the second at 5-3, 30-15.
"They came out and it was sort of like a new match, and we treated it as such," Winterbotham said. "Those three guys got together and understood that it was up to them. The team got right behind them."
The match opened with Vanderbilt taking the doubles court from the Vols on courts 1 and 3. The No. 8 duo in the country, Libietis and Reese lost to Gonzales Austin and Alex DiValerio 8-6. The match was tied at 6-6 when Tennessee's serve was broken.
"In the lockeroom, coach said we needed to do a better job of being competitive," Libietis said. "That's what we did. That's why we won."
Vanderbilt took a 2-0 lead when Blake Bazarnik beat Fickey 7-5, 6-2. Less than 10 seconds later, Chaplin started the Vols' comeback with a 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory on court 4. Tennessee would not lose another match.
Jones extended his winning streak to five with a 6-2, 7-6 (6) win on court 5. Jones found himself trailing 6-1 in the first-to-seven tiebreaker, but fought back for a 8-6 comeback win to win the set. Jones has now won 10 of his last 11 matches since Feb. 25.
There were three rain delays during the match. The start was delayed an hour until 4 p.m., then play was stopped as the lines were dried with three matches left on court. Finally, play was moved indoors after it started raining under the lights at Barksdale.
Tennessee 5, Vanderbilt 2
1. #42 Mikelis Libietis (UT) def. #47 Charlie Jones (VU) 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3
2. #92 Hunter Reese (UT) def. Gonzales Austin (VU) 5-7, 6-1, 6-4
3. Blake Bazarnik (VU) def. Brandon Fickey (UT) 7-5, 6-2
4. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) def. Jeff Offerdahl (VU) 7-6 (7-4), 6-3
5. Edward Jones (UT) def. Anton Kovrigin (VU) 6-2, 7-6 (8-6)
6. Bryan Swartz (UT) def. Joe Dorn (VU) 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 6-4
1. #56 Gonzales Austin/Alex DiValerio (VU) def. #8 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) 8-6
2. Jarryd Chaplin/Edward Jones (UT) def. Blake Bazarnik/Jeff Offerdahl (VU) 8-5
3. Joe Dorn/Charlie Jones (VU) def. Bryan Swartz/Brandon Fickey (UT) 8-2
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (3,4,5,2,1)