Sept. 16, 2011
BY AMANDA PRUITT
Playing on their home courts and at nearby Tyson Park, the Tennessee Volunteers rolled out to a nearly undefeated season-opening day at the Tennessee Fall Invitational on Friday.
The nine Vols combined for a 16-2 singles record in the tournament, and the team's four freshmen each advanced two rounds into Saturday's quarterfinals in their collegiate debuts.
Now a senior, Swartz said he feels a new responsibility as one of three upperclassmen on the team and the only senior. That job means knowing what to do in practice and drills, helping out a talented new signing class that includes Reese of Kennesaw, Ga.; Fickey of Knoxville; Mikelis Libietis of Priekuli, Latvia; and Peter Nagovnak of Kraubath, Austria.
"I have the most experience on the team, but Taylor Patrick, Pizzle as we call him, has been around for a couple years now, and Ed (Jones) has too," Swartz said. "Having so many freshmen this year, I think my role has changed in the fact that I have that experience, just helping those guys know what's going on. They haven't experienced everything at this point, but that will come."
Swartz, playing in the White singles draw, reached the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Wake Forest's Conner Sherwood in the first round and a 6-4, 6-3 victory against Lipscomb's Tanner Brown in the second.
"I couldn't be much happier with today," Swartz said. "The fitness level was good. We've been running a lot and working hard. To play three matches and still feel pretty fresh, is definitely great. We had a lot of guys play well today and got a couple singles wins and a doubles win. "
The senior from Sarasota, Fla., is coming off a career-best 10-7 a year ago, including a 5-2 record during the spring season.
A regular in the doubles lineup as a freshman, Swartz comes into his final year having accomplished one goal of the offseason: weight gain. Listed at 170 a year ago, the 6-foot-3 senior is officially now at 182, a change that's proved beneficial on the court.
"As far as putting on weight goes, that's been my goal since I started my freshman year," Swartz said. "I haven't really been able to do it. I guess I figured if I'm going to do it, it's got to be now.
"Basically the whole summer, I scheduled my day around eating. I had to really work on it to put on weight, but now I feel pretty good. I had to eat twice as much as I normally do. The workout schedule this summer was really good and helped me out a lot."
Freshman Success: Tennessee's new four players each jumped a 2-0 start to their singles careers Friday.
Libietis, ranked eighth in the preseason ITA Newcomers/Freshman Poll, moved into the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win against Xavier's Mesa Mei. Fickey, who will face sophomore teammate Jarryd Chaplin on Saturday, also needed three sets to reach the quarterfinals, beating Chris Mark 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
Reese had a full summer tournament schedule, reaching the round of 16 at the USTA Boys 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich. He picked up where he left off with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Wright State's Michal Lyzwa and a 6-4, 6-0 victory against Roger Ordeig.
Nagovnak took nearly three hours to win his first match in three sets but his second win came much faster, 6-1, 6-1 against Nadav Ruppin of Winthrop.
Saturday's Schedule: The Tennessee Fall Invitational rolls with one round of doubles at Barksdale Stadium at 8 and 9 a.m., followed by two rounds of singles on campus and at Tyson Park.
The Orange draw features two Vol vs. Vol matches in the quarterfinals as Chaplin, playing his first fall season, faces Fickey and Reese plays Nagovnak. Both matches are scheduled for 10 a.m. at Barksdale Stadium.