May 3, 2011
The draw for the NCAA Tennis Championships was released Tuesday evening, and Tennessee Volunteers received the No. 3 seed to match their new national ranking.
The Vols (21-4), who rose from fourth to third in Monday's rankings, will host the first and second rounds of the NCAAs at Barksdale Stadium. They face Radford (22-3) to start the tournament on May 13, and the victor advances to play either Vanderbilt (13-10) or Virginia Tech (14-11) on May 14.
The winner of the second-round match moves on to Palo Alto, Calif., for the final four rounds of the team tournament May 19-24.
Unbeaten Virginia was given the top seed, and two-time defending champion Southern California is seeded second. Ohio State rounds out the top seeds in the 64-team draw at No. 4.
Sam Winterbotham, who has now led the Vols to the NCAA bids his first five years as head coach, said this season has been a challenging one, but added that the Vols have not fully hit their stride as a team.
"What I really like right now is that we're No. 3 in the country, but we don't feel we've played well," Winterbotham said. "When we start playing well, we feel like we could get hot in this tournament and have a really good chance."
Last year, the Vols were the No. 2 seed and reached the NCAA final for the third time in program history before falling to Southern California 4-2.
Tennessee has hosted the first two rounds of the NCAAs eight times since 1999 and sports a 15-1 record in those matches. Recently, the Vols have been tough to beat in Knoxville, having won 33 consecutive at home.
For Tennessee's three seniors, John-Patrick Smith, Boris Conkic and Matteo Fago, the NCAAs mark their final home appearance in uniform. During the seniors' four years in the lineup, the Vols have gone 53-2 in dual matches in Knoxville, and Smith has won 32 in a row on his home court.
The Vols have made 21 previous appearances in the NCAAs since 1979 and have a 34-21 record in the national tournament. Tennessee has yet to win a national title in tennis but has three final appearances: 1990, 2001 and 2010.
NCAA Singles and Doubles Participant List
The NCAA will release its list of participants for the 64-player national singles draw and the 32-team doubles draw.
In singles, Tennessee has three players ranked in the top 50: sophomore Rhyne Williams at No. 3, Smith at No. 11 and sophomore Tennys Sandgren at No. 45. Smith reached the finals of the singles tournament as a freshman, and Williams made it to the round of 16 in his first appearance last year.
Conkic and Smith have been ranked No. 1 nationally together since March 1 and are likely to receive a high seed in the doubles event. Smith was an NCAA Doubles Finalist in 2009 and 2010 with Davey Sandgren.
NCAA Tennis Championships
Top 16 Seeds
2. Southern California
4. Ohio State
9. Texas A&M
15. Georgia Tech
16. North Carolina