March 17, 2010
John-Patrick Smith was named SEC Player of the Week for the third time this season after his undefeated performance led the second-ranked Tennessee Volunteers to 6-1 wins over Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
Smith won both his singles matches at the No. 1 position and returned to second in the ITA national rankings released Tuesday. He defeated Vanderbilt's No. 48 Ryan Lipman 7-6, 6-4 and followed that performance Sunday with a quick, 6-3, 6-1 win over No. 8 Eric Quigley of Kentucky.
Smith, a junior from Townsville, Australia, improved to 28-5 overall and 3-0 in the SEC. With the win over Quigley, Smith now has 18 wins against ranked opponents and is 4-1 against players in the top 10.
In doubles, Smith and senior Davey Sandgren made their push to bounce back to the No. 1 doubles ranking. They defeated Vanderbilt's Adam Baker and Alex Zotov 8-1 on Friday, marking the fourth time they've beaten an opponent by that score this season. On Sunday, they defeated Quigley and Brad Cox in a tiebreaker 9-8 (2) to secure the doubles point for the Vols against Kentucky.
Smith and Sandgren have a 25-4 record this season, well ahead of their 2009 pace, when they finished with 32 and reached the NCAA doubles finals.
Historically speaking, Smith is approaching some rare milestones in the record book. He has 97 career singles wins to tie Earl Grainger (1982-84, 86) for seventh all time. Only six players have reached 100 wins in school history, and no Vol has joined that list in the last eight years.
Smith also has 94 doubles wins, and only three players have reached 100 in that category. Of course, one of those players is Sandgren, who secured No. 100 two weeks ago against Alabama.
Only two Vols have reached 100 wins in both singles and doubles: Byron Talbot (161 singles, 131 doubles) and Shelby Cannon (140 singles, 128 doubles).
Smith was the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2008, and he has been a first-team All-SEC as a freshman and sophomore. He was named player of the week twice last year, and he also picked up two SEC Freshman of the Week honors his first year with the Vols.
The Vols (15-1, 4-0 SEC) have just one match this weekend, hosting LSU on Sunday at 1 p.m. Live scoring and an interactive blog will be available at UTSports.com.