Oct. 23, 2011
BY AMANDA PRUITT
Libietis and Reese scored the first ranked wins of their careers in the process, beating 25th-ranked Josh MacTaggart and Stephen Vogl of Indiana 8-5 in the semifinals.
The Vols duo now faces top-seeded Eric Quigley and Alex Musialek of Kentucky, who were down 5-0 and rallied to beat Indiana's Isade Juneau and Jeremy Langer 8-6 in their semifinal match.
Quigley and Musialek, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, will face each other for the singles title at 9 a.m., and the Vols will play their match against the Kentucky pair not before 11:30 a.m. Admission is free.
The champion advances to the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.
"We're excited for it," Reese said. "We want to play. One match and we want to go to New York. That's what we have to do: we have to win."
Libietis and Reese had not played a official match together until this tournament, but the two new Vols are now 5-0 as a pairing and attempting to reclaim the doubles title that Tennessee last won in 2009.
Improvement as a pairing takes time, as both Vols know. Libietis came to UT as a seasoned doubles player, having been listed as high as No. 624 in the ATP world doubles rankings. Reese enjoyed significant doubles success in the junior ranks.
In September, Libietis teamed up with sophomore Jarryd Chaplin to capture the top flight title at the Tennessee Fall Invitational.
"We're playing every match better and better," Libietis said. "The first tournament I played with Chaps, who mainly serves and volleys, but Reesey can play back, which is different. With every partner, you just have to get used to it. We've gotten better and better and now we're in the finals."
The Vols duo drilled doubles for 40 minutes with the Tennessee coaches before their semifinal match against Indiana, and the practice paid off at the start at the Vols jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
However, Indiana rallied to tie the match at 4-4, but Libietis and Reese broke Vogl's serve at 6-5 and held serve the rest of the way.
The Vols last won the doubles title in the USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional Championships in 2009 when Boris Conkic and Rhyne Williams defeated teammates John-Patrick Smith and Davey Sandgren 8-6.