March 1, 2011
Conkic and Smith have been a perfect 9-0 since teaming up at the No. 1 position in the Vols' lineup, but they are no longer the only Tennessee representatives in the national doubles list. All three of the Vols' regular teams are now ranked, with Matteo Fago and sophomore Edward Jones at No. 52 and sophomores Rhyne Williams and Tennys Sandgren at No. 55.
In singles, Tennessee relinquished its hold on the top ranking for the first time since June as Williams slid to third, but five Vols still remained in the top 125. Smith checked in at No. 13, followed by Sandgren at No. 35, Fago at No. 41 and Conkic at No. 113. The rankings help determine participants for the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships in May.
The Vols (10-1) remained second in the national team rankings, which was conducted with computer calculations for the first time this season, rather than using a coaches' poll.
Back to No. 1
For Smith, Tuesday's release represented the fourth time in his career that he has been at the top of the doubles rankings. He and Davey Sandgren were the No. 1 ranked team in the final 2009 rankings and spent several weeks of the 2010 season occupying the top spot.
Smith and Conkic have been undefeated at the top of the Vols' doubles lineup and enter Southeastern Conference play Friday with a nine-match winning streak. They have a 13-1 record this season, which includes four wins against teams ranked in the top 15.
Before Tuesday, Conkic had been ranked as high as fourth with both Smith and Williams.
It is rare for a team to have all three doubles pairings in the rankings, but the Vols can enjoy that luxury for the time being. Sandgren and Williams joined forces for the first time in their collegiate careers to begin dual-match play and have a 7-1 record, earning a spot at No. 55.
Fago and Jones, who have built a 21-5 record at the No. 3 position the last two years, debuted at No. 52 after a 7-1 start to the year as well. It is the first national collegiate ranking of any kind for Jones. Fago had not been ranked since his sophomore season, when he was 21st with Conkic.
While Williams fell to third after a 3-2 record since the last ranking period, four Vols moved up on the list.
Smith, the preseason top-ranked player, advanced four spots to 13th in the rankings. He leads the Vols in wins with a 27-9 record, including 14 against ranked opponents.
Although Sandgren missed nearly the entire ITA National Team Indoor Championships with an illness, he still gained ground in the rankings, thanks to two more ranked wins. His new ranking of 35 is a career best, and much of that is based on what he has accomplished since January. He is 5-1 against ranked players this spring and now has a 19-4 record and a seven-match winning streak.
Fago bounced back to 41st in the rankings in part because of his three-set comeback victory over Georgia's Sadio Doumbia - then ranked 31st - at the National Indoors. Fago has a 20-6 record and is on pace to at least match his junior win total of 34.
Since returning to Tennessee in January, Conkic has done little else besides win. He has a 15-1 record and is riding a career-best 12-match winning streak into SEC play. The former top-20 senior has been playing on courts 4 and 5, where he has a combined 9-0 record.
The Vols start the march for their first back-to-back SEC titles in program history on Friday when they host Alabama to begin the conference season. The match starts at 2 p.m. at Barksdale Stadium. Those attending the match are asked to park in lot N-15, which can be accessed from Terrace Avenue.
No. 1 - Conkic/Smith
No. 52 - Fago/Jones
No. 55 - Sandgren/Williams
No. 65 - Conkic/Williams
No. 72 - Jones/Williams