Despite a hard fought loss to competitor Bradley Klahn at the ATP Challenger Tournament on Wednesday, John-Patrick Smith still had time to talk about the joys of returning to UT as a professional.
"I always love coming back here," Smith said in the locker room of the Goodfriend Tennis Center. "I try to base and train out here."
Smith and Klahn fought back and forth in front of a large crowd on Wednesday night. After losing a tough first set to the American Klahn, the Australian native Smith fought back with ferocity to take the second set 6-4.
The third set and match belonged to Klahn, though, as he came away with a convincing 6-3 win over Smith.
"I had a couple opportunities in the third to get the late break but didn't," Smith said. "And during the last game as well, I had a chance to get back and serve. It was just one of those days."
Smith said he was disappointed with the outcome.
"Yeah, you always want to do well here. You kind of have that extra pressure, otherwise you won't play that well."
Smith spoke to the media in the locker room next to a full-sized poster of himself in action during his All-American days at UT. The university has not forgotten about his performance while at UT, and neither have the fans, as hundreds showed up to the Goodfriend Tennis Center to cheer on Smith in the evening match.
While a student athlete at UT, Smith was a four-time All-American under head coach Sam Winterbotham. Along with his All-American honors, Smith was selected as a first-team SEC athlete in all of his four years and was selected to the SEC Honor Roll as well. Smith also reached the number one ranking in both singles and doubles, the latter being with Boris Conkic.
Smith is currently ranked 247th in the world in singles and is steadily on the rise. His youth is serving him well, as he is still on his way to the top of the tennis world.
For now, though, JP is focused on his ongoing challenger tour.
"It's on to Champagne (Ill.) next week, and that'll be the end of the year after that. It's a quick offseason, and it's back at it again in January. It's a quick turnaround."
Above all, though, the hometown crowd responded positively to the success and performance of the greatly successful Volunteer.
"It's always great to come back here and play in front of the people who I've known for years. It's a real pleasure to come back here. Everyone is so supportive, and I really enjoy it."
With his ongoing success and bright future ahead in professional tennis, JP Smith has truly made his alma mater proud.