Feb. 25, 2010
Former NCAA doubles champion Rodney Harmon will become the sixth Tennessee Volunteer to be inducted into the ITA Men's Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame later this year.
Harmon is one of 10 former players and coaches who will join the ITA Hall of Fame during a ceremony May 26 at the Hall of Fame building on the University of Georgia's campus in Athens. The NCAA National Championships will also be held in Athens from May 20-31.
Associate head coach Chris Woodruff was the most recent Vol addition to the ITA Hall of Fame. Woodruff, Tennessee's only NCAA singles champion in 1993, was inducted in 2008. Previous Tennessee inductees include Paul Annacone, Mel Purcell, Mike DePalmer Sr. and Tommy Bartlett.
Harmon, a native of Richmond, Va., was among the most highly recruited freshman in the nation when he arrived to Tennessee in the fall of 1979, and he lived up to his billing as one of the best. In his lone season at Tennessee, he finished 10th in the national singles rankings as a freshman and ended the year with a 35-7 record.
Of course, Harmon's most memorable UT achievement came in doubles. He and Purcell, the Vols' top singles players, joined forces to become the best doubles pairing in the country in 1980. They entered the NCAA National Championships as the No. 1 seed and reached the final, where they defeated Trinity's Tony Giammalva and Johnny Benson 7-6, 7-6 to win Tennessee's first - and still only - doubles national championship.
When asked if there was any secret behind the Vols' doubles championship success, then-head coach John Newman quipped, "Actually, I have two secrets: Mel Purcell and Rodney Harmon."
Harmon and Purcell ended the year 33-2 in doubles, which is the third-most wins in a season in school history. Their winning percentage of .943 remains the best in a season. They also captured the SEC Indoor and SEC Championship titles in No. 1 doubles.
Both players earned 1980 All-America honors. Purcell, who played at the No. 1 position, finished 34-6 and was sixth in the final singles rankings.
Harmon later played two seasons at Southern Methodist and was a NCAA singles semifinalist in 1983.
Players are eligible for election to the ITA Hall of Fame 15 years following their final collegiate match, and coaches can be inducted one year following retirement. College accomplishments and later honors are important considerations towards admission.
2010 Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame Inductees
Rodney Harmon (Tennessee and Southern Methodist)
Mahesh Bhupathi (Mississippi)
Daniel Courcol (Mississippi State)
Zan Guerry (Rice)
Leif Shiras (Princeton)
Jay Lapidus (Princeton and Duke)
Kent DeMars (South Carolina)
Craig Tiley (Illinois)
Steve Wilkinson (Gustavus Adolphus College)
Gordon Smith (Georgia)
Tennessee Volunteers in the Hall of Fame
Name (Induction year)
Tommy Bartlett (1993)
Mike DePalmer Sr. (1995)
Mel Purcell (1999)
Paul Annacone (2002)
Chris Woodruff (2008)
Rodney Harmon (May 2010)