The UT Men's Tennis team has served their fall season off to a start and has done so in strong fashion.
Over the past weekend the Vol netters competed in the Baylor HEB Intercollegiate in Waco, Texas, in which junior Jarryd Chaplin and senior Edward Jones captured the doubles title while sophomore Hunter Reese reached the singles final.
Chaplin and Jones now both have two career doubles titles, and Jones's mark of 70 career doubles victories has him on pace to finish his UT tennis career in the top 10 in doubles wins.
While they entered the tournament as the fourth seed, Chaplin and Jones won five matches in three days and shored up the title with an 8-6 win over second seeded Baylor in the championship match.
"Ed is a very accomplished doubles player," Chaplin said. "It was good for both of us to team up and it was great to share the title with him. We won a lot of matches together last semester and we knew getting paired at Baylor was a good thing."
Chaplin is in his third year playing tennis for UT, a period in which he has compiled a career singles record of 28-28 and a doubles record of 33-16. There is a reason behind why he considers his strength to be his doubles play.
The Sydney, Australia native features a serve and volley style of play that is rare now as players like to play at the baseline because of improved racquets, better string and strength. He picked up his style from playing in Australia while growing up.
"(Serve and volley) is traditionally a big thing," he said. "I think it comes from the culture a little bit as well. Australians generally practice their volleys more than most people around the world. I am a very loud and extroverted person and anyone that knows a little bit about tennis knows that serve and volley is in your face and it kind of matches my personality a little bit."
Chaplin is by no means the first Australian player to play for the UT tennis team, as the team has had at least one player from Australia on the roster since 1988.
His goals for the season are to place top ten in the country in doubles and also crack the rankings in singles.
"In the doubles aspect I am fortunate to have a good serve and capable volleys," he said. "I try to exploit my opponents' lack of having that."
While he uses the technique to his advantage, he and his teammates realize that there are many more factors that play into a good doubles team.
"You just have to have a lot of trust in your teammates," he said. "Just having that faith makes playing your own game easier because you are not worried about them."
With more experience under his belt, not to mention the team itself, which had just one returning starter and had to start three freshmen at the top of the singles lineup a year ago, the UT tennis team hopes to be a force to reckon with this year and to improve on their 20th national ranking.
"The coaches talked to us about leadership," Jones said. "They want us (the three seniors on the team) to lead the team as much as we can and it is challenging at times, but we will have to get through those tough barriers. As long as we can have a positive influence on the rest of the guys and if at the end of the day...I can do that, I am pretty happy with myself."
While the Vols tennis team won't play team on team tennis until the spring, the fall season is one in which it allows the players to compete in individual tournaments and play doubles together.
The tennis team will be back in action this weekend, as they will be traveling to Tulsa, Okla., to compete in the ten day ITA All-American Championships. It is the longest collegiate tournament in the country, but is split up into three smaller tournaments.
Sophomore tennis player Mikelis Libietis will be making his season debut in the event. The returning 2012 All-SEC first team player will be playing singles main draw (Oct. 4-7) and will play doubles alongside Chaplin.