Feb. 20, 2009
The Tennessee men's tennis team moved up four spots in the new Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings to fourth, its highest ranking since the 2001 season. UT's sophomore trio of Boris Conkic, Matteo Fago and John-Patrick Smith all had new career-high rankings in the singles poll that was also released.
"As a team we are continuing to get better," head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "Obviously, it is early in the season but we're proud of were we are right now but we know we have to work very hard to continue to move up and get a great seed in the NCAA Championships.
"The team has a lot of confidence right now and is working hard. If we can keep up this effort good things will continue to happen for us."
The ranking is UT's highest since the final team rankings of the 2001 season, when UT was ranked second. Virginia, the only team to defeat UT this season, is ranked No. 1, followed by Georgia and Ohio State. Southern California is ranked fifth.
Three Vols found themselves ranked in the new singles poll. Smith moved up 41 spots to ninth, the highest singles ranking of his career. The Australia native has put together a 9-1 mark in 2009 and this past Saturday defeated the nation's top-ranked player, Bryan Koniecko, in straight-sets.
Conkic is now ranked 20th after beginning the spring season ranked 103rd. The sophomore is 6-1 in dual-match play and had wins at the ITA Indoor Championships over players ranked sixth and 13th in the singles rankings.
Fago entered the rankings for the first time this spring at 107th. The Italy native is 6-0 in dual-match play this season and had two wins over ranked opponents at the ITA Indoor Championships, including a win over the 38th-ranked player in the country to clinch UT's 4-3 win over Ohio State.
Arnau Bruges of Tulsa is the top-ranked singles player in the country. Michael Venus of LSU is ranked fifth and is the highest ranked player in the SEC. UT's Smith is the second-highest ranked sophomore in the country behind Oklahoma State's Oleksandr Nedovyesov, who is ranked second.
The Vols return to action Saturday when they host Kentucky at the Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center at 1 p.m. Live scoring for the match can be found at UTsports.com.