April 14, 2012
The Tennessee Volunteers lost their regular season finale Saturday against fourth-ranked Georgia 7-0 at Barksdale Stadium.
Facing a lineup with five players ranked in the top 60, the 15th-ranked Vols (13-12, 5-6 SEC) dropped the doubles point to start the afternoon and lost a three singles matches in straight sets to seal the team loss. The remaining three matches went three sets, but the Vols did not win any of them.
"It's a 7-0 loss, but it's a match that we're capable of winning," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "That sums it up. Georgia's higher ranked and they're probably stronger top to bottom, but we're capable of winning that match. We've got to compete to win, not just compete to keep it close. That's where these guys have to grow up."
The Vols found themselves in a hole early by losing a lopsided doubles point for the fifth time in six matches, despite an 8-3 win by Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese on court 1 against Hernus Pieters and Sadio Doumbia.
Being honored in his final home match, lone senior Bryan Swartz and freshman Peter Nagovnak lost 8-3 on court 3. Down 7-0, the pair rallied to win three games in a row but could not overcome the deficit. Tennessee has failed to pick up a win on court 3 for the past seven matches.
"At this point in the season, it's all team goals," Swartz said. "At the end of the day, its either 1-0 for us or 0-1. There's no personal goals for me. Just team goals from here on out."
In singles, junior Taylor Patrick lost 6-1, 6-2 on court 6 to Nathan Pasha. Patrick replaced Swartz, who had played the past five matches at No. 6. Tennessee ended the regular season with a mark of 5-17 on court 6.
Georgia took the 3-0 lead by picking up another point on court 4. Chaplin was up a break early in the second set but was broken at 4-5 to close a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Ignacio Taboada.
The Bulldogs clinched the match on court 2 where KU Singh defeated Reese 4-6, 4-6. Reese had rallied to tie the match at 4-4 in the second set before losing the final two games.
After the match was decided, Brandon Fickey could not maintain his momentum from the first set and lost 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 on court 3 to Doumbia.
Libietis' search for his first career top 10 win continues. After winning the first set tiebreaker against ninth-ranked Spencer with a mix of drop volleys and good reaction at the net, Libietis lost the second set and started cramping in the 10-point tiebreaker, falling 6-7 (3), 6-4, [10-6].
Jones battled back from down a break twice in the third set but lost to Pieters 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, in a rematch from a meeting a year ago in which the Vol had quickly gone down 6-1, 6-3.
The Vols travel next week to Starkville, Miss., for the SEC Championships. Tennessee did not receive a bye and will play Thursday.
"We have to get ready to go; the season's just started," Winterbotham said. "What we did up until now prepares us for the season. That's why I'm really disappointed today because I wanted to see something from this team that I didn't see today which scares me as a coach because we're going into the season right now and we don't have anymore time to fix it. Hopefully they understand."
Georgia 7, Tennessee 0
1. Wil Spencer (UGA) def. Mikelis Libietis (UT) 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, [10-6]
2. KU Singh (UGA) def. Hunter Reese (UT) 6-4, 6-4
3. Sadio Doumbia (UGA) def. Brandon Fickey (UT) 4-6, 6-1, 6-1
4. Ignacio Taboada (UGA) def. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) 6-2, 6-4
5. Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. Edward Jones (UT) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
6. Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. Taylor Patrick (UT) 6-1, 6-2
1. Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) def. Sadio Doumbia/Hernus Pieters (UGA) 8-3
2. Nathan Pasha/Ignacio Taboada (UGA) def. Edward Jones/Jarryd Chaplin (UT) 8-2
3. Wil Spencer/KU Singh (UGA) def. Peter Nagovnak/Bryan Swartz (UT) 8-3
Order of finish: Doubles (12,3); Singles (6,4,2,3,5,1)