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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.


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. 
The first official day of summer is a popular day for Vol birthdays, as we wish happy birthday to current Vols Terrance Livingston (track & field), Marshall Talkington (golf) and Jaron Toney (football) today. 2012 Vol tennis graduate Bryan Swartz and one of the greatest linebackers in UT history, Al Wilson, are also celebrating birthdays today.



Williams One Step Away from Wimbledon

Former NCAA singles finalist and Knoxville native Rhyne Williams is just one victory away from qualifying for his fourth consecutive Grand Slam. 

After a 7-6, 6-4 victory over Steven Diez in the second round of Wimbledon qualifying on Tuesday, Williams takes on American veteran Bobby Reynolds in the final round of qualifying Wednesday. 

Currently ranked No. 128 in the ATP World Tour Rankings, Williams is looking for his fourth career Grand Slam appearance. He qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Open and the 2013 French Open last month. He earned the USTA's discretionary wild card to the Australian Open in January. Williams has started to earn some wins on the main tour level this year, reaching the semifinals of the U.S. Men's National Clay Court Championships earlier this spring. 

Today's match will be best-of-five sets, just like the main draw matches will be next week when Wimbledon begins. 

Williams Set for Round 2 at Wimbledon Qualies

Former All-American Rhyne Williams is now just two steps away from reaching his fourth consecutive main draw appearance at a Grand Slam. 

Williams opened Wimbledon qualifying on Monday by defeating Victor Crivoi of Romania 6-2, 6-4. Williams, the No. 12 seed in qualifying, now takes on Canadian Steven Diez later today. Diez is currently No. 267 in the world rankings while Williams opens the tournament at No. 127.

John-Patrick Smith's quest to make the singles draw at Wimbledon ended Monday with an opening-round qualifying loss to fifth-seeded Jiri Vasely 7-6, 6-3. Smith will be playing in the main draw of doubles next week.  

Williams, Smith Set for Wimbledon Qualies

The Vols will be represented at Wimbledon as former All-Americans Rhyne Williams and John-Patrick Smith start singles qualifying Monday at Roehampton. 

It will be the first men's Wimbledon appearance for both Vols, who have spent the last two weeks playing on England's grass courts. 

Williams, currently No. 128 in the ATP World Rankings, is the 12th seed in qualifying and takes on Victor Krivoi of Romania in the first round. He has played in the main draw of the last three Grand Slam, playing through qualifying at the 2012 U.S. Open and the French Open last month. He was a wild card recipient in the Australian Open. 

Smith, now No. 231, takes on a seeded opponent to start out, facing former ITF junior world No. 1 Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic. 

Three victories are required to qualify for the 128-player main draw. 

The Vols are guaranteed at least one representative when the main tournament gets going at the All-England Club. Smith is set to play doubles with Paul Hanley, a 35-year-old Aussie doubles veteran who has won 26 ATP-level titles.  

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