No. 17 Vols End Seahawk Tennis Hopes
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina - No. 17 Tennessee grinded out the doubles point and claimed three singles victories to eliminate No. 44 UNCW, 4-1, in a first-round match of the 2012 NCAA Men's Tennis Championships Saturday at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center.
The Vols, seeded No. 2 in the four-team regional, will battle top-seeded UNC Chapel Hill on Sunday for the right to advance to the NCAA Round of 16 next weekend in Athens, Ga. The Seahawks, the No. 3 seed, closed out their season with a 17-7 record.
"It just came down to a couple big points and unfortunately those went against us," said Mait DuBois, UNCW's fifth-year head coach. "We're very excited about next year because we have everyone back. Having a little more experience will make a big difference. I think we can advance, we expect to advance and next year we're going to try again."
UNCW, making its third regional appearance in four seasons, kept close early before the Vols of the Southeastern Conference earned the win. It was the 12th match of the season against a nationally-ranked opponent for the Seahawks, who are now 0-3 in NCAA matches.
The nation's 12th-ranked doubles tandem of Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese got things going for the orange-clad Vols early with an 8-4 decision over UNCW's Kosta Blank and Chris Cooprider. Jarryd Chaplin and Edward Jones then clinched the doubles point by trimming Pedro Mol and Michael Reilly, 8-5.
In singles, the Vols went up 2-0 when Taylor Patrick skipped past UNCW freshman Zach Hublitz, 6-4, 6-0, at the No. 6 position before Mol defeated Chaplin in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1, at the No., 4 slot to slice the deficit to 2-1.
But Jones, making his 11th career NCAA lineup start, raced past Kaue Pereira, 6-2, 6-3, at No. 5 singles to bump the lead back to 3-1, setting the stage for Reese to clinch the match. Ranked 72nd by the ITA, Reese controlled Cooprider, 6-1, 6-3, at No. 2 singles to send the Vols into Sunday's match against the 15th-ranked Tar Heels.
Tennessee, which has reached the NCAA finals site the last four seasons, moved to 2-0 against the Seahawks after defeating UNCW back in 2008.