Oct. 27, 2013
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Playing doubles together for the first time since May, Tennessee's Jarryd Chaplin and Brandon Fickey marked their reunion Sunday by capturing the title at the USTA Collegiate Clay Court Invitational.
Chaplin and Fickey dug themselves out of an early deficit twice Sunday to defeat North Florida's Norbert Nemscek and Jack Findel-Hawkins 7-6 (4) in the championship match at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.
The title run capped a 5-0 weekend for the Tennessee pair, a result that will likely propel the two into January's national doubles rankings. It was the first title for Chaplin and Fickey as a doubles team and the third career individual doubles title.
Chaplin and Fickey played together last year at the No. 2 and 3 positions in the Vols' lineup, but they had not teamed up in a doubles tournament during the fall until this weekend.
"Having been off the last two weeks with an injury, it was great getting back with Jarryd," said Fickey, who missed the USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional with a side injury. "We got along so well. Everything clicked for us."
Though the two Vols have played together off and on over the last three seasons, Chaplin and Fickey played some of their best doubles as a team the last few days.
Head coach Sam Winterbotham said Chaplin and Fickey have emerged as a stronger doubles team by playing with different teammates during the fall and seeing what made them a strong team in the first place. Chaplin said another big difference was a change in sides. He returned from the deuce court this weekend, and Fickey played in the ad court, something they had not done last year.
Chaplin and Fickey got off to a rough start in the title match. They fell behind early and trailed 5-2. The Vols did not lose focus there, taking advantage of a North Florida service game that featured three double faults to break and eventually tie the score at 5-5.
"They were a very good team," Chaplin said. "They came out with a lot of energy. Personally, I felt a little uptight because it was another chance to win a title. We were able to rebound really well to make sure we stayed in the match."
The Vols got ahead early and maintained momentum in the deciding tiebreaker. They took a 6-3 lead off North Florida's serving, and Fickey served out the victory on the second match point at 7-4.
"In a tiebreaker, you have to be upbeat and stay calm and play the way you did to put yourself in that position," Chaplin said. "We played really consistently during the breaker. I was able to get my returns in and that helped Brandon feel confident in playing his game."
The fall college season is now over for Chaplin and Fickey, who will now set their sights on the team season in January.
"After this fall and playing with different players, they've seen they're a really good option for us. They've seen this is a very good team," Winterbotham said. "Both of them are better doubles players now. Their recognition that this is a good team has made them want to play well together. Now they have. They should be growing with confidence every match they play."
USTA Collegiate Clay Court Invitational
Main Draw Doubles
Chaplin/Fickey [3-4], UT, def. Nemscek/Findel-Hawkins, UNF, 8-7 (4)