Oct. 14, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- One way or another Tuesday, a Tennessee Volunteer will capture the singles title of the USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional Championships.
The final will be played at 3:30 p.m. Admission is free.
"It should be exciting," Reese said. "I've never played Mikelis in a real match, but we play in practice all the time."
Reese's road to the title match was the significantly longer of the two. He endured a slow start three-setter in the morning and outlasted his opponent in two tiebreakers in the afternoon.
In the morning, Reese came back from a slow start to reel off 10 games in a row to beat David Fox of MTSU 1-6, 6-0, 6-2 in the quarterfinals. Reese's afternoon semifinal lasted a good hour longer than Libietis' match right next to him. He defeated Vanderbilt's Rhys Johnson 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2).
"I started off a little slow," Reese said. "I've been down a set a few times in this tournament. I'm just trying to start a little quicker. It's been the starts that are getting me. If you lose the first set, you've got to keep coming."
Libietis' first win of the day came 6-3, 6-2 at the expense of teammate Jarryd Chaplin. In the semifinals, Libietis defeated Purdue freshmen Ricky Medinilla 6-3, 6-3.
Now, Libietis and Reese will meet with the regional championship on the line.
The winner of the match automatically earns a position in the 32-player field at the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships next month in New York. Reese and Libietis are already going in doubles after winning the ITA All-American Championships last week.
Libietis also reached the final last year, losing the championship to Vanderbilt's Ryan Lipman but reached National Indoors via an at-large bid. He has won two singles titles in his career: the top flight of the 2011 and 2012 Tennessee Fall Invitational. This is his fourth career final.
Reese is now in his third career final. He won the Wake Forest Invitational in January 2013 and reached the finals of the HEB Baylor Invitational in 2012.
The doubles championship was played Monday, with Memphis' David O'Hare and Joe Salisbury winning 8-6 over MTSU.