May 24, 2013
URBANA, Ill. -- The Tennessee Volunteers' 2013 tennis season officially came to a close Friday at Atkins Tennis Center.
In an up and down match, the top-seeded sophomore team of Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese were upset 7-6 (5), 7-5 by Texas' Chris Camillone and David Holiner in the second round of the NCAA Doubles Championships.
"Probably anxiety got the best of us today," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "I think they both wanted to win so badly, neither one played very well. Every point there seemed to be a little too much emotion after it."
Libietis and Reese, who entered the tournament ranked No. 1 nationally, end the season with a 14-3 record, all accumulated since the second week of the SEC season.
Reese served for the first set at 5-3, but he and Libietis struggled getting first serves in all afternoon. Reese was broken and the set eventually went into an error-strewn tiebreaker. The teams combined for three double faults with Texas eventually holding serve to take the tiebreaker 7-5.
The Vols played catchup for much of the second set. The Vols trailed 5-3, faced two match points and eventually tied the set up at 5-all. Minutes later, however, Reese lost his serve and Texas served out the second set and upset victory 7-5.
"It's tough," Winterbotham said. "You have lots of highs and lows. I don't want this match to define the season. They've had an incredible year. They've been ranked No. 1 for a reason. They've represented Tennessee incredibly well.
"We're all disappointed we've lost in this tournament, but we're all proud of what we've accomplished this year."
Tennessee's 2013 season represented a return to the national scene for the Vols (26-9). The team was ranked as high as fifth nationally and reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years, though with a practically different team this time around.
Winterbotham was named the ITA National Coach of the Year while Chris Woodruff took home assistant coach of the year honors. Libietis was named the ITA National Player to Watch.
As the Vols head into the summer break, there is plenty of optimism for the team in the year to come. Tennessee is set to return their top four starters from this year, plus the addition of Markus Kerner of Estonia and Sean Karl of Brentwood, Tenn. Karl, who was diagnosed with cancer in October, finished his final round of chemotherapy earlier this week.