Vols Punch Ticket to National Indoors
URBANA, Ill. -- It took back-to-back top-20 victories, but the Tennessee Volunteers are heading back to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships for the fifth consecutive season.
A day after beating No. 16 Illinois on its home courts, the Vols won their section of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend on Saturday with a 4-1 victory over No. 18 North Carolina at the Atkins Tennis Center.
The win assures the 19th-ranked Vols (9-0) of one of 15 spots in the 16-team national field that was up for grabs around the country this weekend.
"This team has massive heart," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "There are three doubles and six singles matches out there, and they're all pulling for each other. You always feel like you have a chance with these guys."
After capturing the doubles point via a comeback win on court 1 by sophomore Mikelis Libietis and junior Jarryd Chaplin, the Vols stormed ahead in singles to take five of six first sets.
Senior Edward Jones and sophomore Brandon Fickey won in straight sets within seconds of each other, and sophomore Hunter Reese clinched the victory by beating Nelson Vick 6-1, 6-4 on court 2.
"I feel what they learned from singles yesterday, they came out more relaxed," Winterbotham said. "I thought we started much better as a team."
The National Indoors will be held Feb. 15-18 in Seattle, the site of the 2011 tournament as well. This was the first year the Vols had to go on the road to qualify for the field during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend.
#19 Tennessee 4, #18 Illinois 1
1. Mikelis Libietis, UT, vs. Esben Hess-Olesen, UNC, 6-1, 4-6, 3-1
2. Hunter Reese, UT, def. Nelson Vick, UNC, 6-1, 6-4
3. Jarryd Chaplin, UT, vs. Brett Clark, UNC, 7-5, 4-4
4. Brandon Fickey, UT, def. William Parker, UNC, 6-3, 6-1
5. Oystein Steiro, UNC, def. John Collins, UT, 7-5, 6-2
6. Edward Jones, UT, def. Maik Ulrich, UNC, 6-4, 6-0
1. Libietis/Chaplin, UT, def. #44 Hess-Olesen/Vick, UNC, 8-5
2. Jones/Collins, UT, vs. Clark/Parker, UNC, 4-6
3. Reese/Fickey, UT, def. DePaolo/Steiro, UNC, 8-2
Order of Finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (6,4,5,2)