May 1, 2013
SEC Player of the Year Mikelis Libietis is the first Tennessee player in program history to be seeded No. 1 in both singles and doubles at the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships.
The NCAA released its selections for the national 64-player singles and 32-team doubles championships on Wednesday. The tournaments are set for May 22-27 at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Center in Urbana, Ill., following the conclusion of the team championships.
Libietis was listed as the top player in singles and was the SEC's automatic bid as the conference's highest ranked player. Doubles partner and fellow sophomore Hunter Reese is set to make his NCAA singles debut as an unseeded, at-large selection.
Libietis and Reese, the Vols' leading sophomore pair, will be the top seeds in doubles after going 11-0 over the last two months. Seniors Edward Jones and John Collins made the acceptance list as the fifth alternates for doubles.
The draws for the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships will not be released until May 21, the day of the team title match. Only the names of the participants and the seeding was released.
By virtue of being seeded in the tournament, both Libietis and Reese will earn All-America honors at the end of the season for the first time in their careers.
A LOOK AT NCAA SINGLES
In his second year starting at the top of the singles and doubles lineups, Libietis has made significant strides as a sophomore.
He entered the week ranked No. 2 nationally with a 35-5 record, including a 21-2 mark at the top of the lineup in dual matches this spring. He was the ace of the conference with an 8-1 record in the SEC.
Libietis' top seeding in singles likely means that he has surpassed Alex Domijan of Virginia for the No. 1 national ranking. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association will release its national team and individual rankings Thursday.
Reese is in his second season playing No. 2 in the lineup. He has put together a 29-7 record this year and was 6-3 in the SEC. He has been ranked as high as No. 26 this spring and was most recently ranked 32nd.
A LOOK AT NCAA DOUBLES
Libietis and Reese lost in the first round of NCAAs last year and look to reverse their fortunes in their return to the national stage. After almost exclusively playing doubles together as freshman, Libietis and Reese did not share the court in doubles until reuniting the first weekend of March thanks to a lineup switch.
The second tour at the top of the lineup has been golden for the sophomores. Libietis and Reese have gone 11-0 -- including 10-0 in SEC play -- to rapidly ascend to the top of the national doubles rankings. They are just the fourth team in program history to reach No. 1.
TENNESSEE & TOP SEEDS
Tennessee has historically sent high seeded players to the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships, but rarely have those Vols been seeded No. 1.
Libietis is the third Vol to be seeded No. 1 in the singles tournament, joining a very exclusive club of Paul Annacone (1984) and Chris Woodruff (1993). Woodruff went on to win Tennessee only singles title that year, while Annacone lost in the quarterfinals. In 2010, John-Patrick Smith was ranked No. 1 but seeded third in the tournament.
In doubles, Libietis and Reese are Tennessee's third team to hold the No. 1 seed for the NCAAs. Mel Purcell and Rodney Harmon won the Vols' lone doubles title in 1980, while Smith and Boris Conkic lost in the second round in 2011.