Tennessee men's tennis coach Sam Winterbotham didn't like what he saw Sunday afternoon — and not just because the Vols lost.
Winterbotham wasn't pleased with the way the No. 18-ranked Vols lost to No. 19 Illinois 4-1 at UT's Goodfriend Tennis Center.
At the top of the coach's list was UT freshman Brandon Fickey smashing his racquet in frustration after losing to senior Roy Kalmanovich 6-1, 6-4 at No. 2 singles.
Kalmanovich won the last two points on shots that Fickey, a former Webb School standout, first called out but were ruled good on over-rules by the chair umpire. At deuce, Fickey called a ball out on the baseline that was over-ruled in by the umpire. On match point, Kalmanovich served an ace down the middle that Fickey called wide but the umpire over-ruled in.
"It's completely unacceptable how (Fickey) behaved," Winterbotham said. "He threw a fit on the court. It didn't go his way, so he handled it exactly how we don't handle things."
Fickey, who had already been assessed a point penalty, was hit with a game penalty after he broke his racquet and walked off the court.
Since his match had ended, Fickey's game penalty was assessed to his teammate at the next highest spot — in this case, No. 1 Mikelis Libietis, who had lost the first set to No. 2-nationally ranked Dennis Nevolo and led 4-3 in the second set and up a service break.
Instead of serving for a 5-3 lead, Libietis took a game penalty without serving a point, and thus it was 4-all.
"Look, that isn't what lost us the match," Winterbotham said. "It's Brandon's behavior throughout our team today, the attitude that there wasn't the humbleness, the competitiveness, the willingness to fight and establish your game."
UT (4-1) took a 1-0 lead by clinching the doubles point with victories by Libietis and Hunter Reese at No. 1 and Jarryd Chaplin and Peter Nagovnak at No. 3.
Illinois (4-2) roared back in singles when Tim Kopinski beat Taylor Patrick 6-1, 6-2 at No. 5 and Bruno Abdelnour beat Chaplin 6-2, 6-4 at No. 4 for a 2-1 lead.
Fickey's match against Kalmanovich was the next to end, and it did so much like it started.
With Fickey trailing 1-3 in the first set, Illinois coach Brad Dancer called for the referee after several questioned line calls between players. Dancer had heated words with the chair umpire during the next few moments.
"I really felt the (chair umpire) was getting overly involved in the match in terms of her interaction in the match," Dancer said, "and that's what I called the referee out for, just to have a situation where the players were going to decide who won, and not the referee in the chair."
However, the match ended just the opposite — with the chair umpire over-ruling two of Fickey's calls.
Kalmanovich's victory gave Illinois a 3-1 lead, and Farris Gosea clinched the match with a 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory over Bryan Swartz at No. 6 singles. Reese was in a second-set tiebreaker after losing the first set at No. 3 singles, and Libietis was in a second-set tiebreaker when the match ended.
Fickey was not made available for an interview after the match.
"We've lost to a team that came in and competed really well, but as a team, we didn't, and so we've got to learn from that," Winterbotham said.