March 16, 2011
Tennessee reached the No. 1 team ranking for the first time in 21 seasons and second time in program history, the ITA released Tuesday.
The Vols (14-2) leapfrogged unbeaten Virginia in the rankings largely because of their difficult road schedule, which has resulted in top-15 wins against Illinois, Duke and Kentucky. The computer ranking system rewards teams for winning on the road.
The top ranking, unfortunately for the Vols, will most likely be short lived after Tennessee lost 4-3 at 31st-ranked Baylor on the same afternoon they earned the No. 1 status.
Tennessee had previously been ranked No. 1 near the end of the 1990 season when the Vols were 31-0 and entering the NCAA Championships. The Vols finished the year 34-1, reaching the final for the first time before losing to Stanford.
New individual rankings were also released by the national office, and the seniors John-Patrick Smith and Boris Conkic retained hold of the No. 1 doubles ranking by a comfortable margin. Sophomores Tennys Sandgren and Rhyne Williams, who have played the No. 2 position most of the season, rose almost 20 spots to No. 38.
In singles, four players remained ranked, led by Williams at No. 3. He is followed by Smith, who moved up one spot to No. 12 after upsetting then-No. 5 Eric Quigley to clinch the 4-2 win over Kentucky. Sandgren dropped nine spots to No. 44, although he is in the midst of a 12-match winning streak, and senior Matteo Fago is ranked No. 51.
No. 1 - Boris Conkic/John-Patrick Smith
No. 38 - Tennys Sandgren/Rhyne Williams
No. 55 - Boris Conkic/Rhyne Williams