June 5, 2012
The Tennessee Volunteers opted to travel to Illinois for the 2013 ITA Kick-Off Weekend in the national tennis tournament draft held Tuesday.
The 20th-ranked Vols, seeded fourth in the four-team region, take on host Illinois in the first round of the tournament that runs Jan. 25-28, 2013. The winner plays the winner of the match between North Carolina and Tulsa.
The Kick-Off Weekend serves as the qualifying tournament for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships from Feb. 15-18 in Seattle, Wash. As the host school, Washington is automatically in the 16-team field, but the 15 other schools advance by winning two matches during the Kick-Off Weekend.
The 15 host schools for the weekend are determined by finish in the final 2012 team rankings. The remaining schools then choose where they will play the Kick-Off Weekend in order of final ranking.
The Illinois region was the first to fill up as three of the first four schools in the draft elected to go to Champaign, giving the region four top-20 teams playing for a bid to National Indoors. Illinois finished 15th, North Carolina was 16th, Tulsa was 17th and the Vols were 20th.
The match at Illinois should also prove additionally beneficial for the Vols as the Illini will host the 2013 NCAA Championships in May, albeit on their outdoor courts.
The Vols have advanced to the ITA National Indoors the last four seasons, but this will be the first time the team takes to the road to do so. Tennessee was tournament finalists in 2010 and 2011.
VOLS PLAYING AT TVOC
Three Vols are set to play in Chattanooga this week at the Tennessee Valley Open Championships, a USTA sanctioned event on clay that runs Wednesday through Sunday at the Manker Patten Tennis Club.
Reese and rising sophomore Brandon Fickey are both No. 5 seeds in singles, while rising senior Taylor Patrick received a No. 9 seed. Vanderbilt's Ryan Lipman, who missed his junior season because of injury, is the tournament's No. 1 seed.
Reese and Fickey are the top seeds in doubles. They were tournament finalists last year.