Senior Day could not have gone much better for the Tennessee men’s tennis team Sunday.
UT’s three seniors went out on a roll.
Senior Ed Jones of Wales had the clinching point as the No. 10-ranked Vols beat No. 18 Auburn 4-0 at Barksdale Stadium.
“It was awesome,” Jones said. “We got exactly what we wanted from all the boys on all three doubles courts and all six singles.”
Tennessee (21-7, 8-4 SEC) earned the No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament in Oxford, Miss. That puts the Vols in the quarterfinals. Auburn (13-9, 5-7) plays Thursday.
UT senior Taylor Patrick of Knoxville teamed with junior Jarryd Chaplin for a victory at No. 3 doubles, and senior John Collins, a transfer from Maryland, teamed with Jones for an 8-4 victory at No. 2 as the Vols got the doubles point.
Patrick gave UT a 2-0 lead with a straight-set victory at No. 6 singles.
After hitting a volley to win the match, Patrick raised his arms and pointed toward the UT fans, including his parents, Scott and Charla.
“We moved here when I was like 9 and since then I’ve been bleeding orange, really,” Patrick said. “I told my dad I wanted to play tennis at Tennessee, and that’s all there is. I could have gone to a smaller school for sure and gotten a scholarship and played all four years, but I didn’t even talk to any other schools.”
Patrick, a fifth-year senior, came to UT as a walk-on and didn’t see playing time until last season. Sunday was Patrick’s seventh consecutive match at No. 6 singles.
“I came here and thankfully Sam (Winterbotham, UT coach) gave me the opportunity,” Patrick said. “He said, ‘Look, you’re going to have to work, but no one’s saying you can’t do it.’ I’ve put in the work and now I’m getting my turn. I’m having fun with it.”
Mikelis Libietis, ranked No. 4 nationally, gave the Vols a 3-0 lead when he rallied from a 1-5 deficit in the second set to beat No. 28 Andreas Mies 6-4, 7-6 (0).
Jones clinched with a straight-set victory at No. 5. On the court next to Jones, Chaplin had match point at No. 3 singles.
“I kind of caught Jarryd’s eye and I was hoping he was going to wait for me and he did,” said Jones, whose parents, Sarah and Carwyn, and sister Annabel were in the stands. “It just tells you a lot about Jarryd and how great of a guy he is to let me have one more go at clinching it.”
UT sophomore Brandon Fickey missed his second consecutive match with a shoulder injury.
Dave Link is a freelance contributor.