March 17, 2009
The Tennessee men's tennis team has played one of the nation's toughest schedules and its success against that slate has helped the Vols move up two spots to fourth in this week's Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.
The Vols (10-3, 3-1 SEC) defeated then 15th-ranked South Carolina and eighth-ranked Florida last week to move into a tie with third-ranked Georgia for first in the SEC Eastern Division.
This season, nine of UT's 13 matches have come against teams currently ranked 20th or higher in this week's poll. The Vols have knocked off Ohio State (6), Baylor (7), Florida (8), Illinois (9), Louisville (16) and South Carolina (19). The Vols only losses this season are to top-ranked Virginia, fifth-ranked Ole Miss and 13th-ranked Kentucky. Ohio State was the preseason No. 1 team in the nation and the Vols knocked off the undefeated Buckeyes in Feb., at the ITA National Indoor Championships. It remains Ohio State's only loss this season.
The Big Orange have two netters ranked in the top-25 in singles. Sophomore John-Patrick Smith is ranked seventh in the newest singles poll. It is the highest the Australia native has been ranked in college. Smith started 2009 by winning the SEC Coaches' Indoor Championships. In dual-match season, Smith has compiled a 6-3 mark all at the top-spot in UT's lineup. Seven of the nine matches have come against ranked opponents.
Boris Conkic is ranked 25th in singles. The Novi Sad, Serbia native is 9-2 in dual-math season. The UT sophomore has a 6-2 mark against ranked opponents this spring, including wins over two players ranked in the top-15 at the time of the match. Conkic clinched UT's win over eighth-ranked Florida with a straight-set win over Alex Lacroix, who is ranked 14th in this week's poll.
Smith and junior Davey Sandgren are ranked eighth in doubles, moving up one spot from their last ranking. UT's top-duo is 9-3 this season at the No. 1 position in dual-match play, including a 3-1 mark in SEC play.
The Vols travel to Montgomery, Ala., to start the Blue Gray Tennis Classic on Thursday. UT plays Penn State in the first round at 11 a.m. A link to live scoring can be found at UTsports.com.