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Vols Rally for NCAA Doubles Win

May 23, 2013



URBANA, Ill. -- After overcoming a case of nerves early, Tennessee's Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese won their first-round match Thursday in the NCAA Doubles Championships.

The top-seeded Vol pair dropped the first set before getting off to a strong start in the second set and earning a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over 19th-ranked Michael Redlicki and Jason Tahir of Duke on a windy afternoon at Atkins Tennis Center.

"On the set break, we talked about keeping our energy up," Reese said. "We got off to a good start and that helped us a ton. I guess in the third the same thing. We were able to get a break an that's what did it."

The Vols will face Texas' Chris Camillone and David Holiner in Friday's second round. Times have not been posted yet.

Redlicki and Tahir put the Vols in a hole near the end of the first set when they broke Reese's service game at 3-4 and took the set minutes later 6-3.

"First set, I think we both came out a little bit tight," Reese said. "We had a few looks in a few games, but it seemed like nothing was going our way. I got broken late in the set. It was just ugly.

After talking things over with associate head coach Chris Woodruff at the set break, the Vols regrouped and began taking command of the return games and kept the pressure on Duke's No. 2 doubles team. Libietis and Reese took advantage of the swirling, cold winds from that point on, sending lobs skyward and drawing errors from Redlicki and Tahir.

The Vols broke Duke twice in the second set to even the match up at 6-2.

Reese and Libietis kept up the momentum in the third set, pulling away early to a 4-1. The Blue Devils broke Reese's serve to cut the Vols' lead to 4-3, but the top-seeded duo was unfazed in their next return game. With a flurry of good returns and consistent play, the Vols broke freshman Redlicki's serve and Libietis served out the victory.

"In the third set, we got broken but we'd broken Redlicki the last three times, and we knew we had it," Libietis said. "We just had to stay positive. In the end end, we won."

The victory contained an element of relief for both Vols, who picked up their first career victory in NCAA singles or doubles. Libietis had entered the day 0-3 in NCAA individual matches, having lost his singles match the day before. Reese had also lost his opening singles match.

Seniors Edward Jones and John Collins' careers officially ended Thursday. The two Vols were alternates for NCAA doubles and did not make it into the draw. Jones, who started four years in the Tennessee doubles lineup, ends his career with 93 doubles victories, seventh all time. With 87 wins, Collins is not far behind on the charts at ninth on the career list.

 

 

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