Sixth-ranked Tennessee tops ETSU, Murray St. to complete weekend sweep
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Playing their third and fourth matches in three days Monday, the No. 6 Tennessee Volunteers (4-0) could have easily let the fatigue, the errors or the missed opportunities get in their way of a weekend sweep.
The Vols, however, managed to yet again sweep a season-opening doubleheader. UT began the day with a hard-fought 5-2 victory against in-state rival East Tennessee State (1-2), and then raced out to a 7-0 outing against Murray State (0-2).
Once again, it was a mix of both Tennessee newcomers and some veteran experience which took control of both matches. Against ETSU, a dominant doubles performance by all three pairs preceded a solid outing by senior Jarryd Chaplin, who won in straight sets against Sebastian Yllera. Wins from freshman Markus Kerner and No. 16 Hunter Reese sealed the win, but the Bucs kept fighting, forcing third sets in the remaining three matches -- a first for a UT opponent this season.
Junior Andrew Dromsky, a transfer from Georgia Southern, was the only remaining Vol to win, and he needed a 7-4 tiebreaker to defeat Ismael Merino of ETSU.
"We knew ETSU was going to be our biggest challenge," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "I think that they're always a competitive team that fights for every point, so they're a great team to play."
In the second match of the doubleheader, the Vols managed to jump out on the Racers early and often and never looked back. In a bit of a lineup change, the No. 28 doubles pair of Chaplin and Brandon Fickey extended their career-long winning streak to nine matches with a 6-0 win against the pair of Max McLean and Adam Taylor.
In the singles, Tennessee kept the momentum and energy levels at a high level, sweeping all six Racer opponents in straight sets, going back to the form which they exhibited on Saturday. Dromsky played No. 4 in the newly adjusted lineup, beating Aleks Mitric 6-0, 6-2 to improve his weekend total to 4-0, plus 4-0 in doubles with partner Kerner.
"It was just a blast to be back on the court," Dromsky said. "I absolutely love the program and I loved to be able to get out here and play with the guys."
Until Saturday's ITA Kickoff Weekend, the Vols will have to improve beyond what their 4-0 record implies in order to achieve their major goals of winning SEC or NCAA championships.
"I think we need to get a lot better," Winterbotham said. "It's a good start. We know right now we're in a position to win anything.
"This is the hard work part of the season where they're still building a base, and we have a long way to go."
That message of continuing a blue-collar work ethic has rubbed off on the players as well.
"We just need to be sharper," said Dromsky. "We just got to not make the errors and not let the opportunities go. I think we learned a lot from this weekend. [We] look forward to going forward."