The No. 10 Tennessee Vols ended their SEC regular season with an exciting 4-0 win against No. 18 Auburn Tigers Sunday in Barksdale Stadium.
"It was very exciting," senior Taylor Patrick said. "Auburn's a good team. We came out in doubles on all three courts and we jumped on them. We had great energy."
The Vols carried that strong momentum into the singles' matches as five of the players won their first set.
"It's Senior Day, and everyone's playing with a little more energy. So I feel like that really helped us," Patrick said. "We took care of doubles and we came out with that same energy in singles and we won five first sets. We didn't let that (long) break in between hurt us."
Patrick came away with the first singles' point with a 6-4, 7-5 win against Auburn's Joseph Van Dooren."I have the tendency to get pretty negative on myself," Patrick said about his match. "There's a lot of emotion involved, so for me to be able to win today was huge."
No. 6 ranked Mikelis Libietis earned the third win for Tennessee in his match against No. 28 Andreas Mies with a 6-4, 7-6 clinch.In his second set, Libietis was down 5-1, looking at the possibility of a third set."I told him to just relax," head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "He's been carrying a lot of stress on his shoulders. It's hard when you win all the time, you feel like people expect you to win. When you're playing one, you're playing every team's best player. You could tell he was so frustrated and he was carrying the emotions from one point to the next."
After an incredible comeback, Libietis was able to take Mies into tie-breaker and earn the win, bringing Tennessee's score to 3-0."It's only 5-1," Winterbotham noted. "I told him to just play and have some fun. All of a sudden, that got him back into the match. It may be one of our best teaching moments since we've been here."
Edward Jones earned Tennessee's fourth and final point with his 6-4, 7-5 win over Auburn's Lucas Lopasso.Patrick said he was very proud to be a part of the Tennessee Vols tennis team even if he didn't get to play in every match."We moved here when I was nine and since then I've been bleeding orange," Patrick said. "I could've gone to a smaller school for sure and gotten a scholarship somewhere and played all four years, but I came here and Sam thankfully gave me the opportunity. I put in the work and I got my turn."
The Vols will take this win with them as they enter SEC championships this coming week."I feel like our team is peaking at the right time" Winterbotham said. "We're going into the tournament and this is where the fun starts. The SEC (championship) is coming up and we've secured a bye so we play Friday."
We're not going down quickly, we're not getting frustrated. Emotionally, we all have the same heartbeat. I thought today was the best thing we pulled out all year. It was incredible."
The Vols have a clinched a first round bye in the SEC tournament and will return to action on Friday, April 19 in Oxford, Miss.