TENNIS REPORT: Challenger Returns
Tennys Sandgren

Nov. 4, 2012


The fall tennis season is winding down, and the Vols are set for a busy finale with singles and doubles competition both at home and in New York.

It's a Tennessee tennis reunion at home this week as the Knoxville Challenger returns to the Goodfriend Tennis Center. Four former Vols are back for the annual event and plenty of current players will take the court in a high-level tournament that features five professionals ranked in the top 150 in the ATP World Tour Rankings.

The Knoxville Challenger is the second of three indoor tournaments played at college venues to finish the USTA Pro Circuit schedule. Qualifying is going on now, and the main draw starts Tuesday.

The Charlottesville Men's Pro Challenger, played at the University of Virginia, finished on Sunday with former Vol John-Patrick Smith winning his fifth Challenger title of the year with John Peers. The Champaign Challenger will be after the Knoxville tournament on the University of Illinois' home courts.

While the Challenger rolls in Knoxville, sophomore Mikelis Libietis and senior John Collins will return to the national collegiate stage for the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York. Libietis will play singles and will team up with Collins for doubles. The tournament starts Thursday.

Singles qualifying for the Knoxville Challenger started Sunday, and former Vol Adam Hubble was the only one of five Tennessee players to advance to the second round.

Hubble defeated former Louisville Cardinal Andrew Carter 6-2, 6-7, 7-5. He will have to win two more matches to reach the main draw and is set to face fellow Aussie Greg Jones in Monday's second round.

Jones, the third seed in qualifying, won his first match over the Vols' current No. 1 Libietis 7-5, 6-3.

In other Tennessee matches played by a trio of seniors: Collins lost a close one 6-4, 6-7, 6-2 to former Kentucky top-10 player Alex Musialek, Edward Jones fell 6-2, 6-1 to Fritz Wolmarans of South Africa, and Taylor Patrick lost 6-1, 6-1 to former Texas All-American Ed Corrie. All three senior Vols had received wild cards into qualifying.

One thing is certain about this year's Knoxville Challenger: it will be hard to miss a Vol on court in the opening round.

Five of the 32 players in the singles main draw are current or former Vols, meaning five of the 16 first-round matches will feature a familiar face to the fans at the Goodfriend Tennis Center.

Usually Tennessee only has two -- at best three -- players in the main draw, but not so this year. Former Vols Smith, Rhyne Williams and Tennys Sandgren all got into the draw on their own ranking. Junior Jarryd Chaplin and sophomore Brandon Fickey earned the tournament wild cards based on an intra-squad tournament last week.

Sandgren has the toughest match to start the tournament, drawing top-seeded defending champion Jesse Levine in the first round. Levine entered the tournament ranked No. 69 in the world.

Going down the draw, Chaplin plays Adrien Bossell of Switzerland, Smith takes on former NCAA singles champion Bradley Klahn of Stanford, Williams plays American Michael McClune and Fickey goes against Alex Kuznetsov, an American who was a finalist at last week's Challenger in Charlottesville.

Days and times for matches are not determined until the day before. The Vols, past and present, will likely play featured matches in the evening.





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