May 2, 2011
The Tennessee Volunteers moved up from fourth to third in the last national team rankings before the NCAA Tennis Championships, the ITA released Monday.
The Vols (21-4) slipped past Ohio State for third nationally, thanks in large part to a difficult Southeastern Conference schedule in which the Vols went 10-1 on their way to back-to-back regular-season titles. In the latest rankings, three SEC schools -- Georgia at No. 6, Florida at No. 8 and Kentucky at No. 10 - joined the Vols in the top 10.
Unbeaten Virginia remained atop the rankings, followed by Southern California.
With their new ranking in hand, the Vols learn their seeding in the NCAA Championships on Tuesday. A live stream of the tournament selection show starts at 5:30 p.m. Eastern on NCAA.com.
Tennessee will likely host the first two rounds of the 64-team national tournament on May 13 and 14 at Barksdale Stadium. Typically, the top 16 seeds serve as early-round hosts, and the Vols have played at home to open the NCAAs eight times since 1999, including the past two seasons.
The last four rounds of the team championships, as well as the singles and doubles tournaments, will be played on Stanford's campus in Palo Alto, Calif. Last year, the Vols reached the final match for the third time in program history before falling to defending Southern California 4-2.
Conkic, Smith Still No. 1
Seniors Boris Conkic and John-Patrick Smith kept their No. 1 doubles ranking for the seventh consecutive polling period. They reached the top spot on March 1 and haven't looked back since.
They have a 23-2 record together since January and will likely be a high seed in the NCAA Doubles Championships. The two teamed up to win the ITA All-American Championships in 2009, and Smith is a two-time NCAA doubles finalist with Davey Sandgren.
Sophomore Tennessee natives Tennys Sandgren and Rhyne Williams dropped six spots in the rankings despite a six-match winning streak. They are ranked 72nd and have an 18-4 record this spring.
Williams Returns to Third
Knoxville-native Williams climbed two spots to third nationally in singles, entering the NCAA Championships with a 34-9 record. He is followed in the rankings by Smith at No. 11, Sandgren at No. 45 and senior Matteo Fago at No. 80.
Smith, Tennessee's first back-to-back SEC Player of the Year, leads the Vols in wins with a 38-11 record this year, three wins shy of his season best. In terms of milestones, he is two victories away from logging the 150th win of his career
Tennessee will likely have three representatives in the NCAA Singles Championships with Williams and Smith earning seeds and Sandgren getting in the 64-man draw for the first time as an at-large bid.
The NCAA releases the player field for the singles and doubles tournaments on Wednesday.
No. 1 - Conkic/Smith
No. 72 - Sandgren/Williams
No. 75 - Conkic/Williams