When UT’s Hunter Reese broke his wrist in high school, the freshman tennis star felt pressured to stay in touch with college coaches. The then No. 2 prospect in Georgia sent out a number of e-mails but received only one response, and it was from Tennessee coach, Sam Winterbotham. After several visits and conversations, the Peach State native decided not to attend the University of Georgia and instead chose the Big Orange.

“I grew up a Georgia fan,” Reese said. “My dad went to Georgia, and I always wanted to go to Georgia, but I used all my time and visits to decide what was the best fit for me, and it turned out this was it.”

Reese was due to be a Bulldog, but because of the willingness of the Tennessee coaching staff to show their interest in the star, he graduated from North Cobb High School early and made his way to Knoxville for an early start. He claims that his dad cheers for Tennessee in tennis, but you would not find him wearing orange to any other Georgia sporting events. He also said that others associated with Georgia tennis did not take the news quite as well.

“The Georgia coach actually hung up on me when I called and told him I was coming to Tennessee,” Reese said. “He didn’t take it too well. A lot of props go to our coaches here. They made me feel like I was wanted and they beat out Georgia in that factor.”

It’s clear as to why the coach was unhappy with Reese’s decision to leave his home state. With a 24-8 doubles record and a 17-13 career singles record, the Vol freshman has played a key role on the court. Just prior to April, he reached his highest ranking in singles at No. 92, and alongside fellow freshman Mikelis Libietis, Reese has reached a No. 7 ranking in doubles.

“I feel really good,” Reese said. “Playing high in the SEC is not an easy task and I just try to go out every week and put forth my best effort and keep working in practice every day. I’m still a freshman, so I have a long way to go in my development. I’m really using this time to build a base for the next four years.”

Reese has accumulated victories over many top players, ultimately moving from the fourth position on the team to a spot as the No. 2 player on the team. Wins over Mississippi’s No. 98 Jonas Lutjen, Baylor’s No. 82 Roberto Maytin and Auburn’s No. 77 Alex Stamchev have been the keys to securing his spot on the team.

As Reese was paired with Libietis to be the top doubles matchup in the spring, the duo went 16-2 before a recent slide. They have lost four of the last six matches but have recently shown some signs of recovery with wins over top-ranked opponents. Against Auburn, the pair was able to take down No. 16 duo of Mies/Stamchev, and this past weekend, they were able to get the only victory of the match for the Vols against the pairing of No. 79 Doumbia/Pieters.

Along with his success on the court, Reese is taking on the daunting task of seeking a major in kinesiology. He has the dreams of most college athletes, but he knows what he needs to do here first.

“My dream has always been to be a professional tennis player,” Reese said. “If that doesn’t work out, I would really like to be a college coach somewhere. In a perfect world, I would like to be a coach here at Tennessee, maybe take over for Sam, but that’s a long way down the road. For the next four years here, I just want to have the best success we’re cable of. If that means winning the SEC, competing for the NCAA or just winning some matches I want to do whatever I can.”