Oct. 13, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Only eight players remain in the hunt for the singles title at the USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional Championships.
Three of them are from Tennessee.
At least one Vol will be guaranteed to reach the semifinals. Libietis and Chaplin face each other in the quarterfinals Monday at 10 a.m. On the other half of the draw, Reese faces David Fox of MTSU at the same time. Admission is free.
"It's going to be hard to distinguish the tournament match from what we do every day in practice," Chaplin said. "I think it'll be the same for him. We're very, very good friends as well. It'll be good tennis, we'll see which way it falls."
Singles semifinals will be played at 2 p.m.
Libietis and Reese both played their way quickly into the singles quarterfinals. Against a hard-hitting and energetic Alejandro Gomez of Kentucky, Libietis broke his opponent's serve midway through both sets to hold out a 6-4, 6-4 lead. Reese took an early lead and never looked back in his match, beating Purdue's Szymon Tatarczyk 6-2, 6-2.
Chaplin and freshman Sean Karl did not have such an easy road. Both Vols won their opening sets, but their opponents stormed right back. Karl lost to Kentucky's Kevin Lai 5-7, 7-6, 6-3, but Chaplin kept calm in an up-and-down third set to beat Kris Yee of Vanderbilt.
Chaplin broke Yee's serve three times in the final set before finally holding serve to seal the victory 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in a match that lasted nearly three hours.
The result was much different than it was a month ago when Chaplin faced Yee in a quick 6-2, 6-4 loss.
Now Chaplin faces his first career top-10 ranked opponent in top-ranked Libietis, who also happens to be Chaplin's roommate and occasional doubles partner. It's a matchup that needs no scouting report.
"I think of him as my roommate that I'm playing against," Chaplin said before jokingly adding, "which kind of takes the aura away from being No. 1 in the country."
Libietis reached the singles final of this tournament last year in Memphis and looks to reach that stage again. The winner of the tournament automatically qualifies for the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships.
In doubles, Libietis and Reese's season-opening eight-match winning streak was snapped in the semifinals. The nation's top-ranked team won their quarterfinal but lost their next match 8-4 to No. 19 Joe Salisbury and David O'Hare of Memphis.
Libietis and Reese won this tournament as freshmen in 2011 to qualify for the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships. Good news for the UT pair this time around is that they qualified for Indoor Nationals early by winning the ITA All-American Championships last week.
USTA/ITA OHIO VALLEY REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Sunday's Tennessee Results
Main Draw Singles
Round of 16
Mikelis Libietis (1), UT, def. Alejandro Gomez (9), UK, 6-4, 6-4
Jarryd Chaplin (9) def. Kris Yee (5), Vandy, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5
Hunter Reese (2), UT, def. Szymon Tatarczyk (9), Purdue, 6-2, 6-2
Kevin Lai (17), UK, def. Sean Karl (17), UT, 5-7, 7-6, 6-3
Main Draw Doubles
Libietis/Reese (1), UT, def. Ademovic/Tverljonas, Austin Peay, 8-1
O'Hare/Salisbury (3), Memphis, def. Libietis/Reese (1), UT, 8-4
Monday's Tennessee Matches
(all main draw matches to be played at Goodfriend Tennis Center, all times Eastern)
Main Draw Singles
Mikelis Libietis (1), UT, vs. Jarryd Chaplin (9), UT, 10 a.m.
Hunter Reese (2), UT, vs. David Fox (9), MTSU, 10 a.m.