Nov. 7, 2012
NEW YORK -- Tennessee sophomore Mikelis Libietis and senior John Collins are set for their return appearances at the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, this time on the same side of the net.
Libietis is playing singles for the first time at National Indoors as an at-large selection and will face Tulsa's Japie De Klerk in the bottom quarter of the draw. Meanwhile, Libietis and Collins take on top-seeded Daniel Cochrane and Andreas Mies of Auburn in the opening doubles round.
Times for the matches have not yet been released. Inclement weather has slowed some teams from arriving, but the tournament is still scheduled to begin Thursday. Two rounds of doubles and a round of singles are slated to be played.
Libietis and Collins, by chance, had shared a practice court last year at the National Indoors for doubles training while Collins was a member of the Maryland team. Now both playing for the Orange and White, the pair trained for two hours at the National Tennis Center to prepare for their tournament run together.
The National Indoors serves as the ceremonial finale of the fall individual tennis season and is considered one of the "grand slams" of the college game. With the USTA's growing involvement in college tennis, the tournament is now played at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the site of the US Open.
Rhyne Williams won the singles title at National Indoors for Tennessee in 2009.
A live blog on the Tennessee men's and women's matches will be on utsports.com. In addition, tennisradio.com will be broadcasting every day from the National Tennis Center.
A LOOK INSIDE SINGLES
After an injury-plagued freshman fall, Libietis has enjoyed a full playing schedule to start his sophomore season and has built a 12-2 record. Three of his wins have come against top 25 opponents.
Libietis opened the fall at a career-best No. 15 in the rankings, and he earned access into the field as an at-large selection by reaching the final of the USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional Championships.
Klerk is ranked No. 73 and is in the 32-player tournament by reaching the quarterfinals of the ITA All-American Championships in October on his home courts at Tulsa.
A LOOK INSIDE DOUBLES
Libietis and Collins enter the doubles championships unranked as a pairing, but each Vol is in the top 20 with a different partner. Collins is ranked No. 6 with Hunter Reese, and Libietis is at No. 17 with Jarryd Chaplin.
The two Vols earned automatic entry to the tournament thanks to winning the Ohio Valley Regional doubles title. The two got off to a rocky start in that tournament -- they were down 7-2 in their opening match to Ball State -- but the team improved tremendously as the tournament progressed.
Libietis and Collins earned the regional crown by beating second-seeded Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai 8-1 in the finals. Both Vols are two-time regional doubles champions.