Feb. 28, 2012
The Tennessee freshmen continued their upward climb in the singles and doubles rankings as the Vols debuted at No. 19 in the ITA's first computerized rankings of the season Tuesday.
The computerized rankings replaced the coaches' poll, which had the Vols (7-6) ranked 21st as a team last week. Tennessee helped its cause in the rankings by going 3-0 over the weekend at the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic in Montgomery, Ala.
Individually, a pair of young Vols achieved career bests, individually and as a team. Coming off two ranked wins, freshman Mikelis Libietis rose 45 spots to No. 36 nationally, while fellow freshman Hunter Reese returned to the national top 125 at No. 95.
In doubles, Libietis and Reese jumped up to No. 17.
Charged with playing at the top position in both singles and doubles as a freshman, Libietis has been a consistent winner for the Vols in his first year of college tennis. The native of Priekuli, Latvia, is 14-5 this year and 6-4 in dual matches.
Libietis, now No. 36, collected the two best wins of his young career in decisive fashion last week at the Blue Gray. He beat No. 33 Gonzalo Escobar of Texas Tech 6-4, 6-1, and then breezed past No. 34 James Meredith of Boise State 6-3, 6-1.
Reese cracked the top 100 for the first time at No. 95 thanks in large part to his match-deciding three-set victory against Jonas Lutjen of Mississippi earlier this month. Lutjen is now ranked No. 48 in the country, making Reese's win more valuable in the computer rankings.
The redshirt freshman from Kennesaw, Ga., is now 10-8 and 5-6 in dual matches.
Libietis and Reese have been the most consistent pairing in the Vols' doubles lineup. Now up to No. 17 nationally, the freshman duo is 14-4 overall and 8-2 in dual matches.
They are on a three-match winning streak heading into SEC play. One of those wins came against Pepperdine's Alex Llompart and Finn Tearney, who are now ranked fourth nationally.
The Vols start SEC play this weekend with a road trip to No. 10 Florida on Friday and No. 22 South Carolina on Sunday. Florida was among the SEC's five representatives in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, and South Carolina is off to its best start in years at 10-1.
No. 17 - Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese