Vols Beat Alabama in Return Home Chaplin Improves to 7-3 in SEC Play with Clinching Win
KNOXVILLE -- All three senior Vols did their part to start the Vols' final home tennis weekend off with a victory against Alabama.
Taylor Patrick helped seal a comeback to clinch a tight doubles point and then John Collins and Edward Jones led the way in singles as the 10th-ranked Vols beat No. 33 Alabama 4-1 at Barksdale Stadium.
The trio helped keep Tennessee (20-7, 7-4 SEC) in the driver's seat for a potential No. 2 seed in next week's SEC Tournament. The Vols conclude the regular season against 18th-ranked Auburn on Sunday at 1 p.m. Admission is free.
The doubles point was tilted in Alabama's favor early when the Crimson Tide jumped ahead by large margins on courts 2 and 3.
Jones and Collins lost 8-0 in a hurry to Becker O'Shaughnessey and Daniil Proskura on court 2, but sophomores Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese reeled off their 10th consecutive win shortly afterward on court 1 over No. 30 Jarryd Botha and David Vieyra 8-2, leaving the third court the last one in action.
Patrick and junior Jarryd Chaplin were playing doubles together for the first time and found themselves down two service breaks 4-1 to Stuart Kenyon and Philippe Tsangarides. The Vol duo slowly climbed back with the crowd's support and won 9-8 (1) in the tiebreaker to secure Tennessee's doubles point.
"We put ourselves in a hole by allowing them to emotionally take control on 2 and 3," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "I thought 3 did a great job of taking that emotional fight back to them."
In singles, Tennessee came out strong and won five of six first sets.
Collins and Jones put the doubles loss behind them and led the charge in singles. Collins put the Vols up 2-0 with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over David Vieyra on court 4. Jones followed a few minutes later with a 6-0, 6-4 win against Philippe Tsangarides on court 5.
"We talked about how we wanted to come out and play and be mentally on the court, and those two led us in that regard, and that's exciting," Winterbotham said. "They learned from doubles and didn't let it bother them in singles."
Even through Chaplin was the last Vol to finish his first set, he eventually closed the door on the Tennessee win, beating No. 98 Becker O'Shaughnessey 7-6 (6), 6-1.
Chaplin is now 7-3 in SEC play and matched his career best with 18 wins this year.
"It really helped playing next to Ed Jones today and really see him get off to a really fast start," Chaplin said. "Looking down the bank every now and then and seeing John win the first set and Hunter won the first set and Mikelis too next to me. Winning that first-set tiebreaker helped me heaps to be able to shut him down in the end."
Alabama's lone point of the came came when Kenyon defeated Patrick 6-2, 7-5 on court 6.
Notes: In Sam Winterbotham's seven years at Tennessee, the Vols have won at least 20 matches five times ... Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese are 10-0 since rejoining forces at the No. 1 position in the second week of SEC play ... John Collins recorded his 20th singles win of the year. It is his third 20-win season, and he is the fifth Vol to reach at 20 victories.
Tennessee 4, Alabama 1
1. #4 Mikelis Libietis, UT, vs. #79 Jarryd Botha, UA, 6-3, 6-6 unf.
2. #30 Hunter Reese, UT, vs. Daniil Proskura, UA, 6-2, 2-6, 3-0 unf.
3. Jarryd Chaplin, UT, def. #98 Becker O'Shaughnessey, UA, 7-6 (6), 6-1
4. John Collins, UT, def. David Vieyra, UA, 6-2, 6-1
5. Edward Jones, UT, def. Phil Tsangarides, UA, 6-0, 6-4
6. Stuart Keylon, UA, def. Taylor Patrick, UT, 6-2, 7-5
1. #6 Libietis/Reese, UT, def. #30 Botha/Vieyra, UA, 8-2
2. #58 O'Shaughnessey/Proskura, UA, def. #60 Jones/Collins, UT, 8-0
3. Chaplin/Patrick, UT, def. Kenyon/Tsangarides, UA, 9-8 (1)
Order of Finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (4,5,6,3).