April 1, 2012
Tennessee's four-match winning streak came to an end Sunday as the Vols dug themselves a hole and could not come back against ninth-ranked Kentucky.
The Vols dropped the doubles point and five of six first sets in singles, ultimately losing to Kentucky 7-0 in a match that was moved inside Goodfriend Tennis Center midway through the action.
"I think it's fair to say they were the better team today," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "They jumped on us and kept on us and you have to give them a lot of credit for that."
The doubles point proved to be a tipping point in the match.
Tennessee (12-10, 4-4 SEC) split matches on courts 2 and 3, with Edward Jones and Jarryd Chaplin winning their fifth consecutive match on court 2 and Brandon Fickey and Bryan Swartz losing their fourth in a row on court 3. In a back and forth match on court 1, Eric Quigley and Panav Jha broke Hunter Reese's serve at 5-5 and held on to win 8-6 for Kentucky.
After falling behind 1-0, the Vols did not come out to a fast start in singles. Kentucky took three of four first sets before rain delayed play. After an hour, the match was moved from Barksdale Stadium to Goodfriend Tennis Center.
"I wish we would have played a little better in doubles," Winterbotham said. "I thought the doubles point was in the air. Both teams had a chance at it. If we get the doubles point, it probably changes the run of first sets."
The Vols recovered some momentum as the match moved inside, but the pendulum always stayed in Kentucky's favor. The Wildcats extended their lead to 2-0 when freshman Libietis lost 6-1, 6-3 to ninth-ranked Quigley on court 1 in his fifth match against a top-10 opponent.
Swartz, playing his third match in the lineup, lost to Grant Roberts 6-1, 6-3 on court 6. Alex Musialek, ranked 19th nationally, provided the clinching win in a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Hunter Reese.
From there, two of the Vols took their matches to three sets. Chaplin was the lone Vol to win his first set but lost the final two sets indoors against 6-foot-6 Tom Jomby 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Fickey came close to securing his best career win, playing on court 3 against No. 22 Anthony Rossi. Fickey lost the first set 2-6 but came back in the second to win by the same score. Fickey was broken in his final service game to lose 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
"I got off to a good start in the second set," Fickey said. "I just put the first set behind me and was able to scrap that out. It was just a dogfight in the third set and he was able to play a little better towards the end."
Jones also lost 7-6 (4), 6-4 to Alejandro Gomez on court 5, snapping a five-match winning streak. It was the Vols' first 7-0 shutout since 2006.
"After the break, I thought we actually competed well," Winterbotham said. "We just had too big of a hole. I would love to see if we would have played that freely with that emotion to start the match."
The Vols take to the road for a final time this weekend in the regular season, playing at Auburn on Friday and Alabama on Sunday.
"I'll give myself 20 minutes to feel sorry for myself and then I'll look for a solution," Winterbotham said. "That's what we've done all year. They've not sat down in the dumps when they've been better. They've gotten better. Their practices are great. I think as a staff, we feel great about the direction this team is going."
Kentucky 7, Tennessee 0
1. #7 Eric Quigley (UK) def. #42 Mikelis Libietis (UT) 6-1, 6-3
2. #18 Alex Musialek (UK) def. #92 Hunter Reese (UT) 6-3, 6-0
3. #22 Anthony Rossi (UK) def. Brandon Fickey (UT) 6-2, 2-6, 7-5
4. #91 Tom Jomby (UK) def. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
5. Alejandro Gomez (UK) def. Edward Jones (UT) 7-6 (7-4), 6-4
6. Grant Roberts (UK) def. Bryan Swartz (UT) 6-1, 6-3
1. #17 Eric Quigley/Panav Jha (UK) def. #8 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) 8-6
2. Jarryd Chaplin/Edward Jones (UT) def. Anthony Rossi/Alex Musialek (UK) 8-5
3. Alejandro Gomez/Tom Jomby (UK) def. Brandon Fickey/Bryan Swartz (UT) 8-3
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (1,6,2,5,4,3)