The Tennessee Volunteers climbed back to second in the ITA national rankings following a key weekend victory over sixth-ranked Florida, and John-Patrick Smith earned the No. 1 singles ranking for the first time in his career.
The Vols (22-1, 10-0 SEC) clinched at least a share of the Southeastern Conference regular-season title and rose two spots in the rankings by defeating Florida 4-3 on Friday and South Carolina 6-1 on Sunday. The Vols can capture the championship outright when they host Georgia in the season finale Saturday at 3 p.m. at UT Varsity Courts. Admission is free.
Smith has helped the Vols in their undefeated conference run with his 9-1 record at the No. 1 singles position. The junior from Townsville, Australia, has been ranked second nationally for most of the year, but on Tuesday, he became the first Vol to reach No. 1 since associate head coach Chris Woodruff occupied the top spot in 1993.
Smith and senior Davey Sandgren remained second in the doubles rankings. Junior Boris Conkic and freshman Rhyne Williams dropped to seventh.
Smith is believed to be the third Vol in history to attain the No. 1 national ranking, joining Woodruff and three-time All-American Paul Annacone. Smith is also likely the only UT player to have been ranked first in both singles and doubles. He and Sandgren have been ranked No. 1 on three occasions the last two seasons.
Woodruff earned the final No. 1 ranking in 1993, which came as no real surprise considering he entered the NCAA Championships as the top seed and won the tournament. Annacone finished with a dominating 51-3 record in 1984 on his way to the top year-end ranking.
Smith has posted a team-leading 34-6 record this season and has 103 career wins, good for seventh in Tennessee history. With a doubles victory Sunday against South Carolina, he became the third UT player to reach 100 career wins in both singles and doubles.
Rest of the story
Four Vols remained in the national singles rankings in addition to Smith. Conkic slipped to No. 40, Williams rose two spots to No. 47 and freshman Tennys Sandgren moved up six positions to No. 105. Senior Matt Brewer, who has been sidelined the last two weeks with an ankle injury, stayed ranked at No. 115.
Williams, who has been a mainstay at the No. 3 position, is second on the team with a 32-6 record. He currently has the highest freshman winning percentage in school history at .842, and he is seventh for most wins in a freshman season.
Tennys Sandgren debuted in the last round of rankings at No. 111 and currently has a 10-match winning streak. He is the only Vol with an undefeated record in SEC play, having gone 9-0 at the No. 4 position.
Smith and Davey Sandgren stayed No. 2 in the doubles rankings with a 31-5 record, which is already good for fifth-most in a season in UT history. They are one win away from their 2009 total, a season in which they reached the doubles finals of the NCAA Championships.
Conkic and Williams lost their first dual match of the spring since the last ITA rankings were released and slipped three spots to seventh. Still, they have a 28-3 overall record this year and are 19-1 in dual matches.
Unbelievably, Conkic and Smith still remained in the top 10 as a pairing, despite the fact they’ve only played — and won — five matches together on their way to the All-American Championship title. They fell three spots to 10th.
The ITA will release team and individual rankings again April 20.
Smith snags No. 1 ranking for first time ever
Published: Thu Apr 15, 2010