Oct. 18, 2012
Coming off a busy weekend at their home tournament, six Vols are set to play the USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional Championships starting Friday in Memphis, Tenn.
All matches will be played at the Racquet Club of Memphis with three rounds of doubles and one round of singles scheduled to take the court on the tournament's opening day. The tournament concludes on Tuesday.
Sophomore Mikelis Libietis leads the Vols' contingent to Memphis as the No. 2 seed in singles and the No. 1 seed in doubles with senior John Collins. Sophomore Brandon Fickey is seeded No. 13 while Collins, junior Jarryd Chaplin and senior Edward Jones are all 17 seeds in the 128-player field.
"Going into the regional tournament, it's a quick turnaround," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "We have a good region. We've got good tests ahead.
"I'd like to see more consistency from some of the guys. To have tournament back-to-back-to-back like we have is really good because it's fresh on their minds."
As the fall individual season comes to a close, much is at stake at this weekend in Memphis.
The singles and doubles champions of the Ohio Valley Regional qualify for the season-ending USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships next month at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.
FIRST LOOK AT THE REGIONAL FIELD
The Ohio Valley is one of the more diverse and deep among the 12 ITA Regions with teams hailing from the SEC, the Big East, the Big 10 and Conference USA among many others. The 128-player singles and 64-team doubles fields also make the Ohio Valley Regional among the largest regional contest.
This year's field certainly has a different look this time around. Two-time champion Eric Quigley and last year's champion Alex Musialek, both from Kentucky, have both completed their eligibility, clearing the way for a new Ohio Valley champion for the first time in four years.
Kentucky's Anthony Rossi, ranked 10th nationally, is the No. 1 seed in this week's field. Libietis, who played No. 1 for the Vols as a freshman last year, has checked in as the No. 2 seed thanks to his national ranking of 15.
Vanderbilt's Gonzales Austin is the No. 3 seed and Kentucky's Tom Jomby is the No. 4 seed.
LAST LOOK AT THE TENNESSEE FALL INVITATIONAL
The Vols took three titles last week at the Tennessee Fall Invitational, the team's only home event of the fall season.
Libietis repeated as the champion of the first flight of singles, beating Fickey in three sets in a rematch of last year's final. Collins won his first collegiate singles title by taking the 32-player second flight.
"Our goal is to get better every week," Winterbotham said. "In a tournament, you can really make a jump. Some guys go into a tournament and come out of it, and they're playing at a higher level. They have a higher confidence level, and I think we have a couple guys who did that."
NEW DOUBLES PAIRING FOR THE WEEKEND
The top-seeded doubles team in this weekend's Ohio Valley Regional is also a brand-new pairing: Libietis and Collins.
While the Vol duo is a new one, Libietis and Collins are defending champions in their respective regional tournaments and both experienced doubles players at the No. 1 position.
Libietis and Hunter Reese won the Ohio Valley Regional last season as freshmen on their home courts at the Goodfriend Tennis Center. In his final year at Maryland, Collins and Maros Horny teamed up for the Atlantic Regional title.
CHAMPIONS BACK TOGETHER
Tennessee's other seeded team in the field is Chaplin and Jones, checking in at No. 5. Chaplin and Jones, the Vols' reliable No. 2 team in the lineup last year, are 5-0 together this fall and 15-4 in their careers.
Chaplin and Jones started the fall out by winning the Baylor HEB Intercollegiate. Individually, both Vols have a 9-1 record this fall.
Jones was a doubles quarterfinalist at the Ohio Valley Regional last year with Fickey, who is playing with Taylor Patrick this week. Fickey and Patrick will start out against Dayton's Colin Bernier and Josh Malyon on Friday morning, while the other Tennessee teams are receiving byes.