Knoxville, TN.--(UTSports) One current Vol and four former Tennessee stars are competing this week in the Knoxville Challenger, the annual ATP Challenger Tour event at Goodfriend Tennis Center.
Main draw singles and doubles starts today with final round qualifying beginning at 10 a.m. The tournament runs through Sunday, and tickets are $10 each day.
Sophomore Luis Valero will be in action on opening day, as well as professional touring Vols John-Patrick Smith, Tennys Sandgren, Jarryd Chaplin and Hunter Reese.
Reese will be the first Vol in action Tuesday, taking on Mischa Zverev (Germany) in the third match on court 2. Smith is the featured evening singles match on the main court against rising American Taylor Fritz, the current No. 1-ranked player in the ITF world junior rankings. His match begins after 7 p.m.
Chaplin and Sandgren are teaming up in doubles for the first time in a doubles match that starts not before 7 p.m.
The Knoxville Challenger is one of the three final Challenger stops on the 2015 USTA Pro Circuit schedule. The Charlottesville Challenger was last week at Virginia; next week is the Champaign Challenger on Illinois' campus.
VOLS IN THE FIELD
Luis Valero: Valero capped a 10-7 fall by winning seven of his final nine matches, making the quarterfinals of the USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regionals and the semifinals of the SEC Fall Classic. He's the only current Vol in the main draw; freshman Timo Stodder notably made the second round of singles qualifying, defeating Oklahoma sophomore Spencer Papa 6-4, 6-2.
John-Patrick Smith (2008-11): The 2011 SEC Athlete of the Year, Smith is the Vols' highest ranked returning player, entering the week at No. 125. Smith is seeded sixth in singles after opting to play on the Australian Challenger circuit last year.
The eight-time All-American is wrapping up his best year of professional tennis. He qualified for both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, the first time he has played through qualifying at majors. He reached the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Rhode Island, collecting his first tour-level wins. He achieved his career-high rank of No. 108 earlier this year.
Tennys Sandgren (2010-11): A two-time All-American, Sandgren has long enjoyed singles success here, having made quarterfinal and semifinal appearances in the Challenger in past years. He has spent most of this season rebuilding his ranking after missing much of 2014 recovering from hip surgery. He has won two singles titles on the Futures tour and three doubles titles, including last week's Charlottesville Challenger. He is back up to 274 in singles and 192 in doubles.
Hunter Reese (2012-15): Three-time All-American Reese graduated in May and is received wild cards in his first appearance here as a professional. He is the defending doubles champion here, having won the title with Mikelis Libietis a year ago. He and Libietis made a doubles final on the Futures tour this summer and he reached a career high doubles ranking of 510 last month.
Jarryd Chaplin (2011-14): Noted serve-and-volleyer Chaplin has made a move this year in the rankings while globe trotting. He won three consecutive doubles titles in Israel this summer and has made three singles quarterfinals. He enters the week ranked No. 946 in singles and No. 506 in doubles.
Previous Champs: Vols have walked away with the Knoxville Challenger doubles title the last two years. Reese and Mikelis Libietis won the title as seniors last year; Smith won the 2013 title with fellow Aussie Sam Groth. Smith is only playing singles this year. Adam Hubble was a doubles finalist in 2012.