Sept. 28, 2012
Seven Vols are taking the courts in college tennis' first major of the season, the most representatives during head coach Sam Winterbotham's seven years at UT.
The tournament, the longest individual college event on the calendar, opens with pre-qualifying on Saturday. Players must win three or four matches to advance to the qualifying rounds, which starts Monday. Another three wins will get the players into the 64-player main draw that begins Oct. 4.
Jones and Patrick, who played 5 and 6 in the lineup last season respectively, both have byes in the first round pre-qualifying Saturday. Jones takes on the winner of George Washington's Alex vanGils and Bradley's Juan Diego-Cuadrao at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. Patrick takes on the winner of Memphis' Cedric DeZutter and Sacramento State's Oliver Andersen at 2 p.m.
THE MAIN DRAW:
This year, the Vols have two players automatically in the main draw, a season after not having anyone qualified. Sophomore All-SEC performers Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese made the cut based on their ranking.
Libietis, ranked 15th nationally, will make his season debut after missing action in the season-opening tournament. Ranked 34th, Reese is off to a 5-1 start this year after reaching the finals of the Baylor HEB Intercollegiate.
In doubles, Tennessee is one of two teams to boast a pair of doubles teams in the main draw field of 32. Reese will play with senior John Collins and will likely be one of the top eight seeded based on their No. 6 national ranking. Libietis and Jarryd Chaplin, ranked 17th, are also in the main draw.
Chaplin, Collins and sophomore Brandon Fickey will all play in singles qualifying. All three have played All-American qualifying before, and Collins is the only Vol to have appeared in a main draw match in Tulsa, having won a round of doubles last year as a junior at Maryland.
Jones and Fickey will play doubles qualifying together.
VOLS HISTORICALLY AT THE ALL-AMERICAN:
Tennessee made history in 2009 at the ITA All-American Championships when John-Patrick Smith won 11 matches in four days to become the third player to sweep the singles and doubles titles. The last player to do so was former top-10 ATP professional James Blake while at Harvard in 1998.
Smith's doubles title came with Boris Conkic in their first tournament together.
Byron Talbot and Shelby Cannon won the doubles title in 1986. Paul Annacone, Roger Federer's current coach, was a singles finalist in 1982.