March 14, 2012
BY MATT MAGILL
After a season spent in and out of the lineup as a substitute, Jarryd Chaplin has found a home on court 4 as a sophomore.
Chaplin played in just nine dual matches as a freshman last year, but make no mistake: he's a veteran. In Tennessee's young lineup, he started the year as the second-most experienced player behind junior Edward Jones.
The native of Sydney, Australia, is an even 13-13 this season and 2-2 in SEC play, but his last match was most impressive. After holding serve at 1-1 in a game that lasted no less than 15 minutes, Chaplin battled for a 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 37 Louis Cant of Mississippi State.
With the Vols taking a week off from SEC competition, Tennessee is hosting Baylor on Saturday at 1 p.m. It will be Tennessee's final scheduled non-conference match.
Chaplin talks the longest service game, team effort and consistency on court and ping-pong theatrics in this week's Q&A.
Q: You picked up a big win on Sunday over the No. 37 player in the country.
A: I didn't realize until afterwards. That was a big win.
Q: You didn't realize?
A: Yeah, I didn't know. I don't really look at the rankings too much.
Q: You had that one game at 1-1 in the first set that took forever.
A: Oh my gosh. That turned the whole match around. I think it did. If I lost it, then it would have been a different result I think.
Q: If you would have lost that one game, do you think you would have lost the whole match?
A: It would have been a battle. Because I won it, I was able to control the match later on.
Q: How many deuces do you think that one game went to?
A: I would go as far as 20. I think there might have been 20. I can recall having 10 points I could have one and I felt like he had just as many if not more.
Q: On that one game, you got some tough calls and some shots didn't go your way, but you were able to stay in it. Do you think that's a sign of mental toughness?
A: Yeah. By about the fifth deuce, the game had started to take awhile. That's when it clicked that I had to win; this was going to be a big game even though it was 1-1. Mentally, if I could get through that game, then I would be setting the tone for how the rest of the match would be. As you said, I got some unlucky shots and some lucky ones on his part. To get through that game, it would have been in his head as well that I was ready to play that day.
Q: We're playing Baylor again this weekend and that was a big match for you last year. The match was tied 3-3 and you were the last player on court 6.
A: That was a heartbreaker for me. Anyone that was following last year's team knows that I was in and out of the No. 6 position. That was just an overwhelming emotional match. I had a good feeling as I looked around that it was going to be me that would clinch or did not clinch. It was a great experience looking at it now, but this week I'll want to put a win on the board as a message for what happened last year.
Q: Is it extra motivation for Saturday knowing what happened last year?
A: Yeah, I think so. It was a match that the whole team--we were coming to the end of our spring break--wanted to finish with a win. I don't hold myself accountable solely for that loss, but I was the most memorable part of the loss. I definitely have some extra motivation to win this week.
Q: Is the main difference between this year and last year being in the lineup every week?
A: Yeah, I prepare during the week in the practices like I'm going to play two matches every weekend. That's something I didn't do last year. I was always prepared to play, but I was always doubting whether I was actually going to or not. I'm very focused on how I'm going to win each week because I know I've got my place at the moment. Obviously no one has a certain place. We have 10 guys fighting for a spot. But if I keep doing what I'm doing I've got my spot.
Q: Even though you lost to Mississippi State on Sunday, Sam talked about how it was a big step forward for the team. Do you agree with that?
A: Very much so. You look at their lineup and it's unchanged from the team that beat us last year and we were hailed as national championship favorites at one stage last year. We came that close on Sunday. I think Sam's main message was that everyone played to win. That's all that's in our control. We played to win and gave more than 100 perhaps and everyone played for each other. I would imagine from a coach's perspective is that's all he can expect and then he gets disappointed if he doesn't see that. That's what we did on Sunday.
Q: You guys have been up and down this season. If you look at Friday and then Sunday, it was a big change. Is effort the key to consistency this season?
A: I think so. If everyone puts in that amount of effort every match, we're going to have some guys that don't play well that week. But if the effort is there, the other guys will have a good day. When it gets ugly is when the effort isn't put in. We're playing against some of the best schools in the country and they'll happily take advantage of that. If we can take that approach this weekend and the rest of the season then we'll have a good year.
Q: What's the difference between a match where you feel good and put the effort in and one where you don't?
A: Sometimes you can feel it before the match. You feel like you have to tell yourself to get ready. Sometimes it's going to be like that. When you have to tell yourself, you have to knuckle down. You can't let little things bother you. You can't complain about things. I don't know what the feeling is when you're not giving effort, but what I do know is the feeling when you are giving effort. If you don't have that feeling, then you know you aren't giving full effort.
Q: How do you get to the stage where you're giving full effort every match?
A: For me, it's just being totally engaged in my match. I'm so engaged in my match. It's a hard one; I don't know how to tell you. Anyone who plays college tennis knows when they're giving 100 percent effort. They know internally. That's the best way of saying it. It's very personal. You know when you're giving 100 percent effort.
Q: Obviously you guys have lost some close matches and your record isn't where you want it to be. Is effort going to be the key to turning the season around?
A: When we talk about record, it's directly correlated to wins and loses. At the end of the day, that's what your success is based off. Sam and Woody and Christopher Williams have all shifted that mentality of late. They're showing exactly what you said, that effort will correlate to a more attractive win-loss record.
Q: Your style of play with serve-and-volley is very unique. Where did you develop that style?
A: Everyone has to play to their strengths. My strengths are my serve and my volley. It's not as easy as that, but I grew up with my favorite player as Pat Rafter. I tried serving and volleying and I got used to it. When you're playing in big matches, you always resort what you're used to. It just became me having to engrain a certain style. When I was younger I played from the baseline a lot. As I got older, I had to play more to my strengths. Some weaknesses were being exploited from the baseline. I had to make sure that I was countering those and this is where I went.
Q: Does the unique style work to your advantage now?
A: Yeah, I try to look at it that way a lot of the time. It obviously is vice versa sometimes because some players enjoy playing against me and I have to get out of my comfort zone. There have been times where I've come against guys who don't enjoy the way I play. It's very evident when I'm up against them. I look at as an advantage.
Q: When you play, you can notice your energy on the court. You seem like a team cheerleader. Is that your personality or do you just try to take charge?
A: It works in two ways. It helps me to be that vocal. It helps me to stay engaged in the match. My effort is there when I'm loud. I think there's two or three guys on the team that are very vocal on the team. I think Hunter Reese does a great job of being vocal for our team. I would say I'm quite vocal as well. I think if we're able to kind of throw out some of the vocal energy that we give off to the rest of our guys then it helps us. It shows our presence in the match and that we're all there fighting for each other. I think that it helps everyone.
Q: Let's say you hit a big smash to break. Is yelling after the point an intimidation tactic?
A: I'm not going to lie. Some of it is gamesmanship. I want to establish myself out there as the bigger guy on my court. Some of it is that. I've played enough matches in my career to understand that when I'm loud that's when I'm playing my best. Ultimately, I'm trying to play my best for the team and that's what comes from it.
Q: Do you have any match day rituals?
A: I've got some weird stuff. I always have to go out before the match with my sweatband in my right pocket and I won't put it on until doubles starts. I do all the drills with it in my pocket and pull it out when we do the coin toss. I usually wear a black t-shirt until the doubles match starts. You'll often see that. It doesn't symbolize anything, but I had a couple of good matches in it and it's become what I do. I'm not too fussy with racquets. I know a lot of guys have to put it on a certain tension. If I don't think a grip needs changed, I won't change it.
I'm a little worried though. I just bought this big ball of rubber bands that I use for dampeners on my strings. They're all different colors. I'm afraid that when I have a big win with a red rubber band, I'll have to play all of them with red. So when I see red or blue, I'll have to change it. That hasn't happened yet. Hopefully it doesn't develop.
Q: Colton talked about how you were the most entertaining ping-pong player to watch because of your theatrics. He also said that he consistently beats you. Care to respond?
A: Colts is renowned for how much he talks it up. I can't remember Colton winning a game of ping-pong. I've seen him lose to all nine other guys on the team. I haven't seen him win. That was a little bit for show that comment. As far as my theatrics, I agree. The paddle doesn't always stay in my hand if I'm losing a point. That ping-pong table is a great way for us to get away from the courts and still be as a team but not so concerned with the on-court stuff. Colton's definitely misleading everybody out there by saying he's beaten me before. It's rubbish.
Q: Ed was talking about the England-Wales rugby match. You were giving him a hard time about being from England, but you're from Australia. Do you just pick teams that will win to pull for?
A: Wales is a iddy-biddy country and I don't think I would favor Wales to beat anyone at any sport. I saw the opportunity to push Ed's button there. I had no real knowledge on who would win, but I thought England should because Wales shouldn't ever win. It's just one of those things where I'm trying to get under Ed's skin. I do that with everyone. I should probably improve on that.
Q: Do you do anything annoying like singing in the shower?
A: I used to in Gibbs, but the bathroom in Vol Hall is a little more cornered-off. I don't do it as much anymore. I ask a lot of dumb questions about American sports. If they're watching ESPN, I might bring up something dumb that's common knowledge to every American. They might think I'm uneducated with American sports.
Q: In your opinion, who has the worst taste in music on the team?
A: There's so many different tastes on this team that I don't know who it would be. Ed's fine. Hunter follows everything. Brandon is more country based and I've learned to see the beauty, so to speak. Taylor's more country music. Colts listens to rap music constantly. That's all he likes to listen to really. He thinks he knows all the lyrics. He thinks he's set for stardom in the rap music industry. I think Colts could branch out and learn a bit more about music. Peter I haven't really seen his taste in music. What was it, he played the piano? I associate him with a classical jazz sound, and that's a bit boring to me. Peter could show me his techno or rock music side every once in awhile. He's suspect about his music choice.
Q: Colts got name-dropped in that Swiperboy song.
A: I did see that. And what kind of song was it? Rap song. That's where Colt's weaknesses lie. He's all about the rap. That's a cool song though, especially to have it based around us. He's got a catchy name: Colton. He got a mention there.
Q: You got everyone an Australian tank top last year. Do you expect anything in return? Those guys owe you.
A: I don't expect anything in return. If I expect anything, it's just that they wear it every now and then. When someone gives you a gift, that's what you do. I see them wearing it. I know it was a favorite of Rhyne Williams. He used to always wear it. He got off the plane when we came back from Hawaii and was wearing shorts and a tank. It wasn't my tank top, but it was snowing. I can't imagine it being higher than 20 degrees and he steps off in shorts and a tank top. Everyone was like, `What are you doing?' I guess Rhyne was a big fan of that shirt I got him. Ed always wears it as well. I don't expect anything in return. They all said thank you to my mom and my dad for bringing them over.