March 5, 2011
Senior John-Patrick Smith tied the Tennessee career doubles wins record in the Vols' Southeastern Conference opener against Alabama. On Sunday, he has the chance to lead the category on his own when second-ranked Tennessee (11-1, 1-0) hosts No. 21 Auburn (7-4, 0-1).
Sunday's match is scheduled for 1 p.m. outdoors at Barksdale Stadium but could be moved inside Goodfriend Tennis Center in the event of rain. Admission is free and parking is available in lot N-15.
Smith tied Byron Talbot's 23-year-old doubles record of 131 wins when he and fellow senior Boris Conkic defeated Alabama's Ricky Doverspike and Jarryd Botha 8-2 at the top of the Vols' lineup.
Smith and Conkic, who rose to No. 1 in the national rankings earlier this week, have a 14-1 record this spring with wins against four opponents ranked in the top 15. They are slated to face Auburn's 43rd-ranked team of Tim Puetz and Dan Cochrane on Sunday.
Breaking Down 131
Smith has been a fixture at the No. 1 doubles position since arriving in Knoxville as a freshman. He has played all but all but three of his matches atop the doubles lineup and has built a 74-17 record in dual matches, including 10-0 this year with Conkic.
Obviously, doubles wins do not come alone. Smith has won matches with eight different teammates in his four-year career at UT. He has reached the No. 1 national ranking with both Conkic and Davey Sandgren and climbed as high as fourth nationally as a freshman with Kaden Hensel.
Here is a breakdown of his 131 wins per doubles partner:
Smith's Doubles Partner: Wins as a Pairing
Davey Sandgren: 80 wins
Kaden Hensel: 23 wins
Boris Conkic: 19 wins
Tennys Sandgren: 3 wins
Rhyne Williams: 3 wins
Matt Brewer: 1 win
Jarryd Chaplin: 1 win
Bryan Swartz: 1 win
Let the Records Stand
Heading into Sunday, here is a brief list of Smith's doubles accolades in his career:
* Achieved ITA All-America status in singles and doubles in 2008, 2009 and 2010
* Reached the finals of the NCAA Doubles Championships in 2009 and 2010 with Davey Sandgren. Smith was also a singles finalist as a freshman in 2008
* Achieved end-year No. 1 ranking with Sandgren in 2009
* Won UT season-record 41 matches with Sandgren in 2010, snapping Talbot and Cannon's record of 40 wins in 1986
* Became the third player to ever sweep the singles and doubles titles at the ITA All-American Championships in 2009. The doubles title came with Conkic after only a few days' practice together before the tournament
* ITA National Team Indoor Championships All-Tournament Team for No. 1 doubles in 2010 (with Sandgren) and 2011 (with Conkic)
Doubles Teams All Ranked
Conkic and Smith 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 Edward Jones at No. 52 and 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 singles draw has 64 competitors and the doubles draw features 32 teams.
Tennessee earned a 6-1 victory over Alabama on Friday to start the SEC season. The Vols took the doubles point with a sweep of all three courts. They got three wins in straight sets from Sandgren, Williams and Smith to clinch the match. Jones won his SEC singles debut with a 6-2, 7-5 win on court 6 against Ian Chadwell, and Conkic also picked up a victory on court 5 after the match was decided.
The Tigers are coming off a 4-0 SEC-opening loss at 13th-ranked Georgia in a match played indoors Friday because of rain. Auburn dropped the doubles point and then lost in straight sets on courts 2, 3 and 4.
Tim Puetz, currently ranked 23rd nationally, was ahead 7-6, 4-3 against Georgia's Javier Garrapiz at the top of the lineup when the match was clinched. Puetz was named SEC Player of the Week on Wednesday after leading the Auburn to an appearance in the finals of the Blue-Gray Classic.
He is slated to play Smith on Sunday. The brief head-to-head matchup is split 1-1, but Smith won the 2010 meeting 6-4, 6-3 at Auburn. No other Vols will rematch with Auburn players in singles or doubles.
When Last We Met
Tennessee shut out Auburn 7-0 in the regular-season meeting last year on the road. After winning a closely-contested doubles point, the Vols won in straight sets on five of six courts. Williams clinched the match with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Alex Stamchev on court 3.
Good to Be Home
The Vols have won their last 29 matches in Knoxville, dating to a non-conference match against Kentucky on Feb. 21, 2010. Since seniors Conkic, Fago and Smith joined the program, the Vols are 49-2 in home dual matches. Smith has won 28 consecutive matches in Knoxville, the longest active streak on the team.
When it comes to conference play, the Vols have won their last 17 SEC matches at home.
13 & Counting
Conkic is riding a career-best 13-match winning streak in singles. The senior from Novi Sad, Serbia, has been near perfect in his return to Tennessee in January. He has a 16-1 record this spring with one win against a ranked opponent.
Sandgren joins Conkic as the only undefeated Vols in dual-match play. He enters Sunday with an 8-0 record at the No. 3 position and is ranked in the top 40 for the first time in his career. He has a 20-4 overall record and has beaten five of six ranked opponents this spring.
With his quick 6-1, 6-1 win over Vikram Reddy on Friday, Sandgren improved to 11-0 in his career in SEC play. The sophomore from Gallatin is 30-4 in his career in dual matches and has been nothing but a success since moving up a spot to the No. 3 position in Tennessee's lineup this spring. Since January, Sandgren has a 12-1 record.