Oct. 13, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- There will be plenty of Orange and White on both sides of the net for Sunday's finals at the Tennessee Fall Invitational.
The Vols made sure of that with their performances Saturday at Barksdale Stadium.
Sophomores Mikelis Libietis and Brandon Fickey picked up a pair of victories each to set up a rematch of last year's final in the top singles flight. Seniors John Collins and Edward Jones did the same and will face off in the second singles flight, assuring a Tennessee winner in both draws.
The singles championships will follow the 9 a.m. doubles finals, which will feature a match with Collins and Jones taking on Fickey and Hunter Reese. Admission is free to all matches.
INSIDE THE REMATCH
Just like they did as freshmen last season, Libietis and Fickey played their way back into familiar territory this weekend on their home courts to reach the finals in the 32-man field.
While the matchup is the same as it was a year ago, don't expect to see the same performance.
A year older, a year more experienced, and a year stronger and more physically fit, Fickey knows he and Libietis are hardly the same players they were a year ago and just starting their first semester at Tennessee.
"We're completely different players now," Fickey said. "We've both grown. We've played a ton more matches. It's going to be fun. It's going to be just another match."
On Saturday, Fickey opened his day with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over former teammate Peter Nagovnak of Winthrop in the quarterfinals. He earned his spot in the final by beating Louisville's Chris Simich 7-5, 6-3.
Libietis, who won last year's title match by a score of 6-3, 7-6 (2), earned both his victories in straight sets as well. He beat seventh-seeded Jimmy Roebker of Xavier 6-3, 6-4. He was in some trouble in his second match against Tennessee Tech's Alejandro Augusto, down 6-3 in the first-set tiebreaker before reeling off five straight games to win the first set and eventually winning 7-6 (6), 6-3.
Reese's and Jarryd Chaplin's tournament stays were cut short Saturday because of injuries. Reese withdrew before his quarterfinal match against Simich, and Chaplin had to retire after injuring his ankle midway through the first set against Augusto.
THE SENIOR DRAW
The Vols' three seniors made sure Tennessee was well-represented in the final rounds of singles in the second flight as well. In addition to Collins and Jones reaching the final, Taylor Patrick also played his way into the semifinals.
Collins has enjoyed a good tournament run in his first career matches on his new home courts. The Maryland transfer breezed through his quarterfinal match 6-2, 6-0 against Vasily Eremeev of Tennessee Tech.
In the semifinals, Collins faced teammate Taylor in the semifinals and earned a 6-2, 6-3 win in the battle of the Vol left handers.
"It's nice to be at home," Collins said. "It's the first time I've ever played a home tournament before so I'm enjoying that. My parents are out here for the weekend, so I'm just enjoying the moment."
Jones' path to the final was not an easy one by any stretch. He was on court long after everyone else had finished play Saturday, grinding out his second three-set victory of the day with the Vols cheering him on.
His afternoon started with a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (1) victory over Pavel Grigorjevs of Chattanooga in which he rallied from a break down in the third set. He followed that with another marathon match, defeating Viktor Selander 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 as the sun was starting to set.
The Vols continued to roll in doubles through the second day of the tournament.
Jones and Collins looked much improved in their second match together, beating Juanjo de la Llere and Jan Dombrowski of Eastern Kentucky 8-2 in the semifinals of the Goodfriend doubles draw. Fickey and Reese had to stay on court longer but dug out the 8-6 win against Xavier's Mesa Mei and Jimmy Roebker.
Chaplin and Libietis, the tournament's defending champions, defeated Nagovnak and Dylan Comerford of Winthrop 8-5.
Tennessee Fall Invitational
Mikelis Libietis (1), UT, def. Jimmy Roebker (7), Xavier, 6-3, 6-4
Brandon Fickey (3), UT, def. Peter Nagovnak, Winthrop, 6-2, 6-4
Alejandro Augusto, Tenn. Tech, def. Jarryd Chaplin (5), UT, 6-4 ret. (inj)
Chris Simich (6), Wright State, def. Hunter Reese (2), UT, w/o
Libietis (1), UT, def. Augusto, Tenn. Tech, 7-6, 6-3
Fickey (3), UT, def. Simich (6), Louisville, 7-5, 6-3
John Collins, UT, def. Vasily Eremeev, Tenn. Tech, 6-2, 6-0
Taylor Patrick, UT, def. Yvon Haessig, USC Upstate, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5
Ed Jones, UT, def. Pavel Grigorjevs, Chattanooga, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (1)
Collins, UT, def. Patrick, UT, 6-2, 6-3
Jones, UT, def. Viktor Selander, USC Upstate, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
John Collins/Edward Jones, UT, def. Juanjo de la Llera/Jan Dombrowski, EKU, 8-2
Brandon Fickey/Hunter Reese, UT, def. Mesa Mei/Jimmy Roebker, Xavier, 8-6
Jarryd Chaplin/Mikelis Libietis, UT, def. Dylan Comerford/Peter Nagovnak, Winthrop, 8-5