May 22, 2014
Libietis and Reese returned well all match and built an early lead in both sets in a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Drake's Robin Goodman and Ravi Patel at the McWhorter Courts.
"We made a lot of first serves and our returns were on point," Reese said. "I think we executed well. We've just got to keep doing that."
Libietis and Reese face UCLA's Marcos Giron and Mackenzie McDonald on Friday in the second round. The Vols have played the 10th-ranked UCLA pair twice this year, including an unfinished match when leading 7-2 last week during the team tournament.
The Vol duo, seeded second in the 32-team tournament, rebounded strong in doubles after both lost in the opening round of NCAA singles Wednesday.
"Losing singles, you realize you still have doubles," Libietis said. "We've been a really good team this year. You can't let it bother you in doubles. We know we can go deep in this tournament. We just have to focus on the little things, and I think we'll be good."
On Thursday, Reese and Libietis jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first set, taking advantage of Goodman and Patel's errors and playing solidly. Libietis won his service game to give the Vols the set at 6-1.
The Vols' top team continued its momentum in the second set, breaking Drake's opening service game to take a 2-0 lead and never looking back. Reese and Libietis reeled off the last three games of the match to wrap up the 6-1, 6-2 victory.
Reese and Libietis are going for their second doubles major championship of the season. The two won the ITA All-American Championships in October and reached the finals of the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships in November. The Vols beat UCLA's Giron and McDonald in the title match of the ITA All-American in a third-set tiebreaker.
The success at the national level this year gives the two an experience factor heading into their third NCAA doubles tournament.
"We know what the jitters are going to feel like, and we know how to handle a tournament," Reese said. "We played one today, take care of that match and move on."
With the win, Reese and Libietis now have 90 doubles victories each in their careers. Sixty-nine of those wins have come together. They are 32-5 this year.