Doubles switcheroo comes up aces for UT tennis

Doubles sometimes gets lost in the world of tennis.

Not at Tennessee.

Four matches ago, UT coach Sam Winterbotham wasn’t satisfied with his team’s doubles play, so he pulled a switcheroo.

Jarryd Chaplin moved from No. 1 doubles — where he was playing with No. 1 singles player Mikelis Libietis — down to No. 3 doubles with Brandon Fickey.

Meanwhile, Hunter Reese moved from No. 3 doubles with Fickey back to No. 1, where he played with Libietis last season. Reese and Libietis were 23-12 in 2012 and ranked as high as No. 7 nationally.

The move worked.

The No. 6-ranked Vols (15-5, 2-2 SEC) won their fourth consecutive doubles point since the change on their way to a 4-1 victory over South Carolina (11-6, 1-2) on Friday at Barksdale Stadium.

“We played really well last year and we’ve done really good this year,” Reese said of the doubles with Libietis. “Brandon and I were playing well at 3. I guess we were just looking for a little change at 1. They decided to switch us up, and it’s worked out.”

On Friday, Libietis and Reese won 8-4 at No. 1 doubles. Not long after UT’s Ed Jones and John Collins lost at No. 2, Fickey and Chaplin won 8-4 at No. 3 and improved to 4-0 since the change.

“My game style lends itself to doubles play, and I feel it’s a little bit to the culture,” said Australia’s Chaplin, one of the Vols’ best doubles players. “Australians practice their doubles a lot, and I’ve traveled enough to know most other countries don’t.”

Libietis and Reese, ranked No. 17 in doubles, are 3-0 since the change.

“We’ve always known that Hunter and Mikelis can play very well together, so we thought we’d give it a shot,” Winterbotham said. “John and Ed, being as solid as they’ve been at 2, wouldn’t really help to make the switch because we thought 2 would compete every time, not necessarily win every time, and at 1 and 3, if we can get the same mentality there, we’re in good shape.”

Collins never trailed at No. 6 singles on his way to a 6-2, 6-2 victory.

Chaplin gave the Vols a 3-0 lead with a 6-1, 7-6 (4) victory at No. 4. After Jones lost at No. 5, Reese clinched the match with a 6-4, 6-1 victory at No. 2.

“We’re done, boys!” Reese yelled.

UT plays host to Florida on Sunday at 1 p.m.

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