April 14, 2013
KNOXVILLE -- The Tennessee seniors hope Sunday was not their last match at Barksdale Stadium, but if it was, they made sure to finish up their home careers in a winning way.
The 10th-ranked Vols (21-7, 8-4 SEC) will be the No. 2 seed in next week's SEC Tournament in Oxford, Miss. With a strong finish down the stretch, the Vols have also put themselves in good standing to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Championships in May.
"I feel like the team is peaking at the right time heading into the tournament," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterobotham said. "This is where the fun starts."
The Vols struggled at the start of doubles in Friday's 4-1 win over Alabama, but that was hardly the case against Auburn (13-9, 5-7). Tennessee got up on all three courts midway through the sets and started pulling away.
Patrick and Jarryd Chaplin won their second match together this weekend, beating Lukas Ollert and Joseph Van Dooren 8-3 on court 3. Collins and Jones rebounded from a shutout loss on Friday to defeat Lucas Lopasso and Dennis Lengsfeld to clinch the doubles point.
With the lead in hand, the Vols experienced no letdown after the seniors were honored during the break. Tennessee jumped out to take five of six first sets.
"We took care of doubles and then brought that same energy in singles," Patrick said. "We jumped on them and took five first sets. We didn't let that break for Senior Day hurt us. We kept the energy and just kind of rolled them."
Patrick was the first off court for Tennessee. He won his third SEC match since returning to the singles lineup last month, beating Joseph Van Dooren 6-4, 7-5 on court 6.
Sophomore Mikelis Libietis seemed destined to go three sets but went ahead at finished his match in two. The Vols' No. 1 wrapped up a stellar SEC season by rallying from down 5-1 in the second set to beat 28th-ranked Andreas Mies 6-4, 7-6 (0).
Libietis finished the regular season 8-1 in singles and 10-1 in doubles during conference play, all at the No. 1 position. His win over Mies put the Vols ahead 3-0.
Jones and Chaplin both held match points on adjoining courts, but Jones had the honor of clinching the match. He broke Lopasso's serve to seal the Vols' shutout win, earning a 7-5, 6-4 victory on court 5. It was Jones' second singles victory over the weekend.
Between singles and doubles, the seniors helped the Vols finish strong in the final weekend of the season. Jones went 2-0 in singles, Collins was 1-0 and Patrick was 1-1. Back in the doubles lineup this week, Patrick also went 2-0 in doubles with Chaplin.
"They all care," Winterbotham said. "There's no egos. In our sport, you deal with egos ... These three guys are all about the team. For me, it's a pleasure."
Tennessee 4, Auburn 0
1. #4 Mikelis Libietis, UT, def. #28 Andreas Mies, AU, 6-4, 7-6 (0)
2. #30 Hunter Reese, UT, vs. Daniel Cochrane, AU, 7-6, 3-2
3. Jarryd Chaplin, UT, vs. Dennis Lengsfeld, AU, 7-6, 6-5
4. John Collins, UT, vs. Lukas Ollert, AU, 5-7, 5-3
5. Edward Jones, UT, def. Lucas Lopasso, AU, 7-5, 6-4
6. Taylor Patrick, UT, def. Joseph Van Dooren, AU, 6-4, 7-5
1.Reese/Libietis, UT, vs. Cochrane/Mies, AU, 7-5
2. Collins/Jones, UT, def. Lopasso/Lengsfeld, AU, 8-4
3. Chaplin/Patrick, UT, def. Ollert/Van Dooren, AU, 8-3
Order of Play: Doubles (3,2); Singles (6,1,5).