May 23, 2014
Facing UCLA's 10th-ranked team Marcos Giron and Mackenzie McDonald for the second time in a week and third time this season, Libietis and Reese took early leads in both sets in a 6-1, 6-4 second-round victory at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
Tennessee takes on California's 28th-ranked team of Gregory Bayane and Chase Melton on Saturday. Only three of the top-eight seeds remain in the tournament, with the Vols being the highest at No. 2.
Libietis and Reese are in the hunt for a second collegiate major title this year, having won the ITA All-American Championships in October. They also reached the finals of the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships.
Success in the NCAA doubles tournament has been a long time coming for the Vols' leading duo, who are into the third day of the tournament for the first time in three years. As the No. 1 seeds last year, Libietis and Reese lost in the second round.
"It's an honor to be here, but we feel like we should be here too," Reese said. "It probably would have been a disappointment to lose before now. We haven't done it before, but those have been a couple of disappointing years. We feel like we're on track to make a run."
Libietis and Reese had faced the Bruins' top team last week in the NCAA team tournament. Though the Vols lost 4-0 as a team, Libietis and Reese led at No. 1 doubles 7-2 when play was suspended. The two teams also met in the title match of the ITA All-American Championships, with the Vols rallying to win the trophy in a third-set tiebreaker.
There were few -- if any -- surprises for either team on court Friday. Execution and adjustments were key in the rematch.
"It's really up to you how you lock in and execute because people play how they're going to play," Libietis said. "You can't change a lot of stuff. You make good, small adjustments."
Giron and McDonald, both still alive in the quarterfinals of the singles tournament, struggled to land first serves early in the match and the Vols took advantage. With a combination of good returns and execution, Libietis and Reese broke UCLA's serve twice to roll away with the first set 6-1.
The second set proved to be much tighter as Giron and McDonald stepped up their return games. Libietis and Reese broke McDonald's serve at 2-2 and kept the lead the rest of the set, but it was not easy. Both Vols had to work their way out of 15-40 service games.
As the late afternoon shadows slowly moved across the court, Libietis served out the 6-1, 6-4 victory.
This season in the collegiate individual majors -- the NCAA championships, the ITA All-American and the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships -- Libietis and Reese have compiled a 10-1 record. They are 33-5 overall this season.