BATON ROUGE, La. -- The sixth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers ended their final road match of the tennis regular season on a sour note Sunday against LSU.
The Vols rallied to tie the match late but lost 4-3 to the 32nd-ranked Tigers five minutes later to snap their four-match SEC winning streak.
Jarryd Chaplin broke Mark Bowtell on court 4 to earn a 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 victory pulling the Vols even with LSU 3-3. All attention then turned to court 1, where sophomore Mikelis Libietis lost his final service game and trailed 6-5 in the third set.
Libietis manufactured two break points in the last game, but 82nd-ranked Chris Simpson came out the hero. The Vols' ace hit a backhand wide and Simpson won 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 to clinch LSU's victory.
It was Libietis' first SEC loss in singles at the top of the lineup and snapped a nine-match winning streak. He entered the match 7-0 in conference play and had clinched the Vols' 4-3 win last week against Texas A&M.
With the loss, the Vols (19-7, 6-4 SEC) lost outright control of second place in the conference standings. The top four teams in the SEC get byes in the conference tournament in two weeks.
Things started out well for the Vols in Baton Rouge with doubles.
Edward Jones and John Collins wrapped up an unbeaten weekend at the No. 3 doubles position, defeating Simpson and Boris Arias 8-5. The Vols lost on court 2, but Libietis and Hunter Reese clinched the doubles point with an 8-4 win over Roger Anderson and Olivier Borsos.
The Vols' No. 1 doubles team ran its SEC record to 9-0 as Tennessee took a 1-0 lead.
In singles, LSU jumped out to take four of six first sets, but nearly all the courts tightened up in the second sets. Three matches eventually went three sets.
LSU tied the match 1-1 when Harrison Kennedy defeated senior Taylor Patrick 6-3, 6-2 on court 6, but the Vols answered a few minutes later. John Collins rallied from slow starts in both sets to beat Arias 6-4, 6-3 on court 5 to make it 2-1.
The Tigers added two more points on court 3 and 2. After exchanging several breaks late, Borsos finally held serve to beat Brandon Fickey 6-2, 7-5. On court 2, Reese's four-match winning streak was snapped in a 6-3, 0-6, 6-3 loss to Szacinski.
With LSU holding a 3-2 lead, the Vols needed wins on the two remaining courts featuring Libietis and Chaplin.
Chaplin was broken serving for the match at 5-3 in the third set, but he answered back in the next game to beat Bowtell on court 4. That left Libietis and Simpson as the two remaining players on court.
The large Sunday crowd helped buoy Simpson through the final two sets. Libietis was up a break late in the second set when the tide started turning in LSU's favor.
Libietis lost his final service game in both the second and third sets in the loss. He had entered the match 8-0 in three-set matches.
LSU 4, Tennessee 3
1. #82 Chris Simpson, LSU, def. #3 Mikelis Libietis, UT, 3-6, 7-5, 7-5
2. Stefan Szacinski, LSU, def. #31 Hunter Reese, UT, 6-3, 0-6, 6-3
3. Olivier Borsos, LSU, def. #115 Brandon Fickey, UT, 6-2, 7-5
4. Jarryd Chaplin, UT, def. Mark Bowtell, LSU, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4
5. John Collins, UT, def. Boris Arias, LSU, 6-4, 6-3
6. Harrison Kennedy, LSU, def. Taylor Patrick, UT, 6-3, 6-2
1. #7 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese, UT, def. Roger Anderson/Olivier Borsos, LSU, 8-4
2. Stefan Szacinski/Tam Trinh, LSU, def. Brandon Fickey/Jarryd Chaplin, UT, 9-7
3. #52 Edward Jones/John Collins, UT, def. Boris Arias/Chris Simpson, UT, 8-5
Order of Finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (6,5,3,2,4,1).