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Libietis Reaches First Futures Semifinal

Rising junior and reigning SEC Player of the Year Mikelis Libietis won again Thursday to advance to the semifinals of the Saaremaa Open in Kuressaare, Estonia. 

Libietis defeated unseeded Alexander Zhurbin of Russia 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals to reach his first career singles semifinal at an ITF Futures event. He faces second-seeded and world No. 463 Mathias Bourque on Friday. 

Incoming freshman Markus Kerner lost in the opening round in three sets to wild card Anton Pavlov in three sets. In doubles, Kerner and Libietis were coming off a tournament victory the week before but lost their first-round match in Kuressaare. 

Libietis Rolls on Day 1 in Estonia

In his second tournament of the summer, SEC Player of the Year Mikelis Libietis got things rolling with an opening round win at this week's ITF Futures Circuit stop in Kuressaare, Estonia. 

Libietis beat Konstantin Gerlakh of Russia 6-3, 6-2. He will play his second-round match later in the week, likely against sixth-seeded Ivan Anikanov. 

Incoming freshman Markus Kerner is also in the singles field and starts play Tuesday. He's taking on fellow Estonian Anton Pavlov, a wild card entry this week. 

Libietis and Kerner, who won a doubles title together last week, lost in the opening round of Monday's tournament. They dropped a three-setter to Adria Mas Mascolo and Ashwin Vijayragavan 6-2, 3-6 [10-4]. 

ON TOUR: ATP Tour Rankings (7/22/2013)

Here are the Vols' updated ATP Tour rankings as of July 22, 2013. The Vols are listed by highest singles ranking first. The number in parenthesis denotes change from previous week.

Rhyne Williams
Singles: 121 (+6)
Doubles: 145 (-4)
Note: Reached singles semifinals at the $50,000 Binghamton Challenger in New York ... Accepted wild card into this week's BB&T Atlanta Open, an ATP 250 event. He plays fellow wild card Denis Kudla in the first round tonight.

Tennys Sandgren
Singles: 253 (+41)
Doubles: 133 (+4)
Note: Reached singles quarterfinals last week at the $50,000 Binghamton Challenger ... Boost in singles rankings came from Binghamton performance and points added from reaching the finals of a Canada Futures the week before ... In final round of qualifying at the $50,000 Lexington Challenger in Kentucky.  

John-Patrick Smith
Singles: 324 (+14)
Doubles: 71 (+3)
Note: Reached doubles final and second round of singles last week at the $50,000 Binghamton Challenger ... Doubles ranking a career high ... Had 98 career pro doubles wins ... Playing this week at the $50,000 Lexington Challenger.

Matteo Fago
Singles: 688 (+5)
Doubles: 957 (+1)
Note: Reached the final round of doubles and the second round of singles at a Futures event in Italy last week ... Off this week.

Kaden Hensel
Singles: 999 (+4)
Doubles: 762 (+6)
Note: Reached second round of singles at the $75,000 Beijing Challenger ... Off this week.
On July 22, we send Happy Birthday wishes to recent Lady Vol track & field alum Nijgia Snapp. Also celebrating birthdays today are former men's tennis star Tennys Sandgren and former Vol hoops player Craig Diegel.

Nijgia Snapp


Trio of Current Vols in Tennis Action

Three current Vols are playing tennis tournaments this week in Europe.

SEC Player of the Year Mikelis Libietis and incoming freshman Markus Kerner are both playing at a Futures tournament in Kerner's hometown of Tallinn, Estonia. The pair won their opening-round doubles match together Monday and are set to play each other in the first round of singles today.

This week is the first ITF Futures event for Libietis this summer. The Vols' leader is expected to be one of the top-ranked players to start the fall season. He finished 2013 ranked No. 3 nationally in both singles and doubles. 

Meanwhile, rising sophomore Bartosz Sawicki is also playing in his hometown at the Ponzan Challenger in Poland. He lost in the second round of singles qualifying over the weekend but received a wild card into doubles. 

Vol fans have yet to see Sawicki and Kerner in action at Barksdale Stadium but both should provide a boost to the UT lineup, which lost its No. 5 and 6 starters -- Edward Jones and John Collins -- to graduation in May. Sawicki joined the team in January but must sit a year in residency and will be eligible in time for the 2014 team season. Kerner is one of two incoming freshman on the Vols' fall roster, joining Tennessee native Sean Karl. At 6-foot-5, Kerner is the top junior player coming out of Estonia this year. 

ON TOUR: ATP Tour Rankings (7/15/2013)

Here are the Vols' updated ATP Tour rankings as of July 8,, 2013. The Vols are listed by highest singles ranking first. The number in parenthesis denotes change from previous week.

Rhyne Williams
Singles: 127 (+2)
Doubles: 141 (+52)
Note: Reached first career ATP doubles final on Monday with Tim Smyczek at the Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, R.I. The pair lost to Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, the No. 2 seeds ... Back in action this week at the $50,000 Binghamton Challenger, where he is seeded No. 1 after accepting a wild card. 

Tennys Sandgren
Singles: 294 (+8)
Doubles: 137 (-1)
Note: Enjoyed a strong week at a Futures stop in Canada, reaching the singles final and winning the doubles title. Points will be added next week ... Playing singles this week at the Binghamton Challenger. 

John-Patrick Smith
Singles: 338 (+15)
Doubles: 74 (+2)
Note: Reached doubles quarterfinals at the Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, R.I. Ranking of No. 74 is a career best in doubles. Also reached the final round of singles qualifying ... Won first-round singles match Monday at the Binghamton Challenger. Also seeded No. 1 in doubles.

Matteo Fago
Singles: 696 (+3)
Doubles: 947 (+63)
Note: Lost in singles qualifying last week at a $35K Challenger in Italy ... Playing singles and doubles this week at a Futures stop in Italy. 

Kaden Hensel
Singles: 1003 (+982)
Doubles: 768 (-3)
Note: Lost in opening round doubles at the $75,000 Beijing Challenger.

Happy Birthday - July 9: Mikelis Libietis

On July 9, we wish a Happy 21st Birthday to men's tennis All-American and 2013 SEC Player of the Year Mikelis Libietis.

UT 


ON TOUR: ATP Tour Rankings (7/8/2013)

Here are the Vols' updated ATP Tour rankings as of July 8,, 2013. The Vols are listed by highest singles ranking first. The number in parenthesis denotes change from previous week.

Rhyne Williams
Singles: 129 (-1)
Doubles: 193 (-7)
Note: Off last week ... Playing this week in singles and doubles at the Hall of Fame Championships in Rhode Island ... Playing doubles today with Tim Smyczek and starting first-round singles play later this week against Nicolas Mahut of France. 

Tennys Sandgren
Singles: 302 (-18)
Doubles: 136 (0)
Note: Lost in first round of the Winnetka Challenger last week ... Off this week. 

John-Patrick Smith
Singles: 353 (-110)
Doubles: 76 (+4)
Note: Reached second round of doubles at Wimbledon, nearly upsetting the No. 3 seeded team ... Rank in doubles is a career best ... Ranking drop in singles because he was still playing doubles at Wimbledon and was unable to defend his title at the Winnetka Challenger in Illinois, which was worth 80 points ... No points to defend for the rest of July (played World TeamTennis last year) ... Playing this week at the Hall of Fame Championships in Rhode Island.

Matteo Fago
Singles: 696 (+3)
Doubles: 947 (+63)
Note: Lost in the first round of a Futures tournament in Bulgaria ... Closing in on career-high ranking in doubles of 945, set before he started his college career in 2007 ... Lost in singles qualifying this week at a $35K Challenger in Italy. 

Smith's Upset Bid Falls Short at Wimbledon

John-Patrick Smith and doubles partner Paul Hanley pushed the third-seeded team at Wimbledon to the very brink in a five setter but could not close the deal in the second round.

Smith's first career experience on the famous grass courts ended Saturday with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-7 (6), 7-5, 10-8 loss to Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares.

In a rain-delayed start to the match Friday, the two teams split sets before play was suspended because of darkness to start the fifth set. With only one set to play on Saturday, the teams made sure it was a long one. 

Both teams held serve with relative ease through the fifth set. Smith and Hanley had two break points opportunities in the set but were unable to capitalize. Peya and Soares also had two break point chances and got one of them, breaking at 9-8 to end the extended fifth set to avoid the upset.

Soares entered the fortnight ranked sixth in the ATP World Rankings, and Peya was ranked eighth. Smith is currently ranked 80th in the world, but he should move into the top 75 when the new rankings arrive. 

Wimbledon was the first tournament for Smith and Hanley as a doubles pairing. Smith has played doubles with seven different partners so far this season. 

Smith Wins Opening Doubles Match at Wimbledon

Former Vol John-Patrick Smith crossed off another career milestone Monday, winning his first career match to start Wimbledon. 

Smith and fellow Aussie Paul Hanley, playing together for the first time, defeated Philipp Marx and Florin Mergea 6-3, 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 in their opening match at the All Queens Club. They will likely face the third-seeded team of Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares in the second round later this week. 

Smith and Hanley finally started capitalizing on break point opportunities in the fourth set, coming back from 4-2 down to reel off four games in a row to earn the victory. They were 3 of 14 on break point opportunities, and that was enough for the win. 

This year, Smith has appeared in the doubles main draw of all three Grand Slams so far and has a 2-2 record. He also won a match at the Australian Open in upset fashion. 

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