A chilly Saturday afternoon at Barksdale Stadium went in the Vols favor as they knocked off a win hungry Tiger bunch.
Doubles play has been a strength of the Vols so far this season and they yet again proved why they are the second best in the SEC in doubles play, improving to 3-0 in SEC play as they stole the doubles point from the Tigers.
“We work incredibly hard on doubles,” head coach Chris Woodruff said. “I am appreciative of the effort these guys have put in and I am appreciative of us winning the doubles point because that makes singles play in our conference a lot easier if you can start out 1-0.”
An energetic duo of Pat Harper and Johannus Monday on court one got the day started for the Vols with a 6-4 win over Stefan Latinovic and Nick Watson.
Emile Hudd and Shunsuke Mitsui on court two clinched the doubles match point for the Vols following a 6-4 victory against Chen Dong and Welsh Hotard.
The match on court four (court three was under maintenance) went unfinished. Angel Diaz and Tomas Rodriguez got the last point to tie it up 5-5.
The stat of the afternoon came in singles play as the Vols swept the board winning each first set on all six courts.
Julien Penzlin for LSU went down early in the first set on court 6 with an ankle injury but continued against Tomas Rodriguez, although he dropped the match to Rodriguez, 6-0, 6-4, and gave a 2-0 match lead in favor of the Volunteers.
Emile Hudd extended the Tennessee lead to 3-0 on court two as he blew past a perfect serve against Stefan Latinovic to win the second set. Hudd won both sets, 6-4.
Blaise Bicknell gave the Vols the mark in the win column and the ultimate 4-0 lead after he topped Chen Dong on court three following a 35 second rally, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.
Woodruff was proud of Blaise’s contribution as he clinched the sacred fourth point to give the Vols the win.
“For Blaise it's great,” Woodruff said. “He is still searching and today he came through, his shots were there down the stretch and I really liked the way he was able to close it out.”
Woodruff would use Blaise’s match as he addressed his team post match.
“As I told the guys, you have to have guys step up,” Woodruff said. “You can’t just rely on the same old, same old, same old, all season long.”
Johannus Monday continued his dominance as he beat Ronald Hohmann on court one, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. That would extend the lead for the Vols, 5-0.
Shunsuke Mitsui was the only Vol to drop a match on court four as he fell to Welsh Hotard, 6-4, 1-6, 3-6.
The afternoon would come to a close 6-1 as Angel Diaz needed all three sets to beat George Stoupe, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Coach Woodruff was extremely delighted with the singles performances, and continues to preach his “There’s no I in team” mentality.
“Most importantly is the win,” Woodruff said. “We are not going to win 7-0 every match, All I really care about is when that scoreboard gets to four, you pull for all the guys on the team but what we are looking for is collectively get to four.”
The Vols are looking to use their back-to-back SEC wins as an adrenaline rush heading into a road trip this upcoming week to Alabama and Georgia.
“I don’t know anyone who gains confidence from losing,” Woodruff said. “There is that shot of adrenaline and the shot of feeling good that comes with winning, it doesn’t have to always be pretty but like I told the guys every win we can get in this conference is meaningful.”
Tennessee is back in action this Thursday, March 16, at the University of Alabama Tennis Stadium at 5 p.m. ET.
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