Nov. 18, 2010
Highly ranked southeast seniors Hunter Reese of Kennesaw, Ga., and Brandon Fickey of Knoxville have signed with the Tennessee tennis program and will join the Vols for the 2011-12 season.
Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said the recruiting class could not have asked for a better start than with the addition of Reese and Fickey to a program that finished No. 2 in the national rankings and won the Southeastern Conference title in 2010.
Reese is No. 2-ranked in Georgia by Tennisrecruiting.net. Fickey, who attends Webb School, is the No. 1-ranked senior from Tennessee.
The right-handed Reese attends North Cobb High School, where he led his team to its first playoff win in the school's 52-year history. He has been named the Cobb County Boys Tennis Player of the Year the last two seasons. On a more national scale, he is listed as a blue-chip recruit, the No. 21 recruit in his class, as well as the No. 6 player from the Southeast.
"We know what our program is about - we're honest, we're going to work our tails off, and we're going to compete every day. Hunter just fit all three of those criteria," Winterbotham said. "He competes as well as anyone we've seen in junior tennis. We're ecstatic that he's here. He had some great offers from great schools and he chose to leave his home state of Georgia and join us here."
Winterbotham said he was also impressed by Reese's intelligence on and off the court.
"He can break down the court from a mental point of view. He definitely can figure out what he needs to do, and we're definitely encouraged by that," Winterbotham said. "He's also just a brilliant student. His grades and test scores pretty much blow everyone else away that we've ever recruited. We know that he's committed to be a great student as well, which fits what we're all about. We expect great things from Hunter."
Reese plans to graduate high school early and redshirt for the Vols starting in January.
Having grown up in Knoxville, Fickey does not have to travel far to join the Vols and is no stranger to the coaches or the campus. His signing is a part of Tennessee's continuing commitment to recruit the best from within the Volunteer State.
Last season's eight-player lineup for dual matches featured four in-state players, including All-America members Rhyne Williams (Knoxville) and Davey Sandgren (Gallatin). Tennys Sandgren, also from Gallatin, was the top-ranked junior player in the country when he joined the Vols in January.
"We've always said our recruiting starts from within, and we're going to recruit the state of Tennessee," Winterbotham said. "Brandon is the best player in the state of Tennessee. We believe he's going to play an important role for our program down the road."
In addition to being the No. 1 recruit in the state of Tennessee, his is also currently listed as the No. 8 recruit in the Southeast and No. 27 nationally by Tennisrecruiting.net. He has been named the Knoxville News Sentinel PrepXtra Tennis Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010.
Fickey still has some unfinished business at Webb School. He has won three consecutive state singles titles in Class II-AA and Class II-A and has the opportunity to become the first four-time Tennessee state champion since Chris Brown, who accomplished the feat with Chattanooga Notre Dame from 1961-64.
In addition to the singles titles, Fickey also helped lead Webb to its first team championship in 2010.
"The most exciting thing about Brandon is that he loves to compete," Winterbotham said. "He's a competitor, and that fits right in to what we're trying to do. In order to play at the level that we expect to compete at, we need people who are gamers, and Brandon is a gamer.
"What we expect to do with Brandon is to add that passion of competing with that passion to practice and develop. I think we're going to have someone very special by the end of his time here."
Like Reese, Fickey has also excelled in the classroom and plans to pursue a degree in the medical field.
The Vols completed their fall season earlier this month with Williams becoming the third UT player to win the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships and senior Matteo Fago capturing his first title in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Tennessee begins its spring season early with the Rainbow Warrior Challenge beginning Jan. 10 in Honolulu. The Vols then open the doors to a remodeled Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center on Jan. 14 for the SEC Coaches Indoor Championships.
To Note: Reese is the first Georgia native on the Vols' roster since Jason Parker in 1993 ... Brice Karsh is the most decorated Georgia player in Tennessee history, earning All-America honors with the Vols in 1990 and 1991.