Tennessee junior Jarryd Chaplin had more motivation than usual on the tennis court Friday afternoon.
Mum was in town. All the way from Sydney, Australia.
So Chaplin made his mother Amanda proud as the No. 10-ranked Vols beat No. 33 Alabama 4-1 at Barksdale Stadium.
Chaplin teamed with Taylor Patrick for a 9-8 (1) victory at No. 3 as UT (20-7, 7-4 SEC) clinched the doubles point, and then posted a straight-set victory at No. 3 singles to clinch the match against Alabama (12-11, 3-8).
“Mum made a last-minute decision about Wednesday (to come to Knoxville),” Chaplin said. “I kind of hinted at her that it would be a good couple of weeks for her to come and see. I caught up with her this morning for breakfast, and then obviously she got to see a pretty cool match today.”
For Chaplin, it’s the first time a family member watched one of his UT matches since his freshman year, when his father Vince and younger brother Ben joined his mother for a match. Only mum could make it this time.
“Dad’s got to work right now,” Chaplin said. “It can be a pretty hefty fee, Australia to Knoxville, so I’m just really happy Mum could turn up and make it for the next couple of weeks.”
Chaplin and Patrick played their first doubles match together as the Vols shifted their lineup due to a shoulder injury to Brandon Fickey, who is out indefinitely. Fickey is 0-7 in SEC singles matches this spring while battling the injury.
After UT seniors John Collins and Ed Jones won their singles matches at Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, Chaplin clinched with a 7-6 (6), 6-1 victory over Becker O’Shaughnessey, ranked No. 98 nationally.
“He’s really maturing,” UT coach Sam Winterbotham said of Chaplin. “I feel like he’s owning his game. It’s a unique game. It’s a very difficult game to play against.”
Chaplin has an old-school style. He serves and volleys, and charges the net behind slice shots.
It’s the style Chaplin has played since he was 16, and opponents figured out he might not have the greatest baseline game.
“I had to adapt, and my strengths are at the net, and I had to play as much as I can from the net,” Chaplin said.
The style has worked. Chaplin is 7-3 in SEC matches this season.
“I’m just trying to win every single point, and I don’t really care how I do it,” Chaplin said. “If it has to be ugly, I’ll take it ugly.”
UT plays host to Auburn on Sunday (1 p.m.) for Senior Day.