Jan. 3, 2012
BY AMANDA PRUITT
Vols were voted No. 13 nationally to start the spring season, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association released Tuesday evening.
Coming off a pair of SEC title-winning seasons in 2010 and 2011, the Vols open a new chapter in 2012 with a bevy of newcomers and a few returning contributors, including two-year starter Edward Jones.
Three of the Vols' four freshmen start January in the ITA national individual rankings, with Peter Nagovnak at No. 117 and Hunter Reese at No. 119. Reese and doubles partner Mikelis Libietis are ranked No. 33 indoubles.
Head coach Sam Winterbotham, now in his sixth season, has led the Vols to top-10 finishes the last four years, including top-five finishes the last two years. The Vols won 101 dual matches during that time, the most in a four-year period in program history.
As freshmen, Nagovnak and Reese are nationally ranked in singles for the first time in their careers at No. 117 and 119 respectively.
Nagovnak, a native of Kraubath, Austria, enjoyed a solid first fall season, going 7-4 in four fall tournaments. Reese, from Kennesaw, Ga., finished 5-2 in two events.
In doubles, Reese is ranked there too, coming in at No. 33 with Mikelis Libietis. The Vol duo upset the top two teams on their way to the title at the ITA Ohio Valley Regional Championships and teamed up for a 6-2record.
AND IN THE REGION
Libietis starts the year second in the ITA Ohio Valley Regional rankings, which were also released Tuesday. The hard-hitting right-hander from Priekuli, Latvia, compiled the Vols' best winning percentage of the fall, going 8-1 in just two tournaments.
Reese was ranked three spots back at No. 15.
By virtue of winning Ohio Valley Regional trophy, Libietis and Reese are the top-ranked team in the regional doubles poll. Jones and freshman Brandon Fickey are ranked eighth.
NOTE ABOUT THE RANKINGS
The national team rankings were conducted in a poll format, while the singles and doubles rankings were administered using a computerized system. Team computer rankings, which largely determine seeding for the NCAA Championships, will debut on Feb. 26.
Regional rankings were based on a poll. The Ohio Valley rankings are not released again until the end of the season.
The Vols open the season Jan. 20 indoors at the Goodfriend Tennis Center with a double header against Memphis at 1 p.m. and Eastern Kentucky at 6 p.m. Admission is free as Tennessee looks to extend its 35-match home winning streak.
No. 33 - Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese
No. 1 - Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese
No. 8 - Edward Jones/Brandon Fickey