NEW YORK -- Tennessee NCAA doubles champion Hunter Reese received a doubles wild card to next week's U.S. Open, the United States Tennis Association announced Saturday.
Reese will make his Grand Slam debut with Peter Kobelt, who played on the Ohio State team that Reese and Mikelis Libietis defeated 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 in the NCAA doubles finals in May.
Now a senior, Reese is the first current member of the Tennessee men's tennis team to play at the U.S. Open since 1987 when Shelby Cannon was granted a singles wild card to start his senior year.
"Surreal is the exact word to describe this," Reese said Sunday morning before his first practice at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. "I haven't been there yet. I'll get my credentials today. I just can't believe that I'll be walking around with everyone you see on TV. I'll be their peers and not their fans. It hasn't really sunk in yet."
Reese was not the only player with Tennessee ties to receive good news from the USTA on Saturday. Former UT All-American Tennys Sandgren (2010-11) also picked up a doubles wild card with Chase Buchanan. It will be the Grand Slam debut for Sandgren, who is making his return to the pro circuit in New York after missing most of the 2014 season recovering from hip surgery.
John-Patrick Smith is the third Vol who will be appearing in the doubles main draw. He is playing with fellow lefty and frequent partner Austin Krajicek. The two reached the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in July.
Reese and Libietis formed the top doubles team in college tennis last year, starting and ending the season at No. 1 in the national rankings. They won the ITA All-American Championships in addition to Tennessee's first NCAA doubles title since 1980. They finished the year 36-5.
American winners of NCAA singles and doubles champions are typically given U.S. Open wild cards by the USTA. Reese is a native of Kennesaw, Ga., and Libietis is from Priekuli, Lativa. The two have been leading the Vols' doubles lineup since they were freshmen.
"Mikelis and I had a great season together," Reese said. "I'm grateful for Mikelis as a teammate and doubles partner. I wouldn't be here in New York without him."
The U.S. Open doubles draws were released Sunday morning by the USTA. Reese and Kobelt will take on 10th-seeded Michael Llodra and Nicolas Mahut of France.
Sandgren and Buchanan play Mate Pavic and Andre Sa. Smith and Krajicek face the wild card team of Tim Smyczek and Bradley Klahn.
The U.S. Open starts Monday with early round singles, but doubles does not begin until midway through the week. For schedule updates on the Vols playing in the U.S. Open, check out Tennessee tennis on twitter @Vol_Tennis.