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Smith Collects Historic 4th All-America Honor
John-Patrick Smith

John-Patrick Smith

June 8, 2011

By Amanda Pruitt
UTSports.com

NOTE: Before starting his career on the pro tour, four-time All-American John-Patrick Smith will be joining UTSports.com for a live chat Thursday from 1 to 2 p.m. Eastern at this link. Questions can be emailed in advance to tennis contact Amanda Pruitt at akpruitt@utk.edu.

Senior John-Patrick Smith became Tennessee's first four-time ITA All-American, but his career accomplishment is truly something for the national record book.

Smith joined extremely rare company as just the second player in college tennis history to become a four-time All-American in both singles and doubles.

Rick Leach was the only other player to earn singles and doubles accolades every season of his career, doing so for Southern California from 1984-87. That's not a bad name association for Smith, considering Leach eventually earned the world No. 1 ranking in doubles.

The ITA released its final individual rankings Wednesday, and Smith wrapped up his Tennessee career ranked 10th in singles and first in doubles with fellow senior Boris Conkic. By virtue of finishing the year No. 1 in the rankings, Smith and Conkic earned ITA Doubles Team of the Year honors.

In a season in which two Vols held the No. 1 singles ranking and Tennessee had a pair representatives in the semifinals of the NCAA Singles Championships, it is not surprising the 2011 Tennessee squad accomplished this program first: four Vols earned All-America honors, the most in a year in team history.

Smith was joined on the ITA All-America team by Conkic in doubles and sophomores Rhyne Williams and Tennys Sandgren in singles.

 

 

The Top Three Positions
The top half of Tennessee's lineup was one of the strongest in program history, a statement backed up by the season's final tournament: the NCAA Singles Championships.

Williams and Sandgren, Tennessee natives who played at the No. 2 and 3 positions in UT's singles order during the year, faced each other in the national semifinals. Williams won the showdown in three sets 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 and lost in the finals the next day to Southern California's Steve Johnson.

Williams, who enjoyed a two-month stay at the No. 1 singles ranking in January and February, was ranked third nationally in the final poll and ended with 42 wins. Sandgren moved up from 45th to a career-best 32nd, wrapping up a 37-win season.

Smith finished his senior year with 42 wins, surpassing his career-best of 41 victories as a junior. His final ranking of 10th signaled his return to the national top 10 for the first time since the preseason rankings in September when he was ranked No. 1.

ITA Doubles Team of the Year
In doubles, few teams accomplished so much in so short a time as Smith and Conkic. They teamed up in January and rolled to a 27-4 record, which included a 22-2 mark in dual matches. After earning the No. 1 national ranking on March 1, they retained that top position through the final eight polling periods.

They will be honored during the US Open in September.

Only two other Tennessee pairings have been named the ITA Doubles Team of the Year, and Smith was a member of one of those teams. He and Davey Sandgren won the award in 2009 after reaching the finals of the NCAA Doubles Championships. Mel Purcell and Rodney Harmon, Tennessee's only NCAA doubles winners, ended the 1980 season ranked No. 1.

As a team, the Vols finished fourth in the rankings after posting a 24-5 record and reaching the NCAA quarterfinals. They also captured back-to-back SEC regular-season titles for the first time in program history. Tennessee has finished the last four years ranked in the top 10 nationally and has spent every polling period since January 2010 inside the top 5.

For a closer look at Tennessee's four 2011 All-Americans:

Boris Conkic
2011 Doubles Record: 28-4 (8-1 SEC)
Final Doubles Ranking: No. 1
Conkic took the fall semester off to play tournaments around Serbia and the U.S., and his return to the squad in January resulted in an instant boost to the Vols' doubles lineup. He teamed up with Smith to go 22-2 in doubles dual matches and climbed to the No. 1 ranking on March 1, a position they held the rest of the season. Over the last two seasons, Conkic compiled a 47-3 record in doubles during team play. The senior is finishing his career as an All-American for the first time, and he also has four All-SEC honors to his credit.

John-Patrick Smith
2010-11 Singles Record:
42-13 (9-1 SEC)
Final Singles Ranking: No. 10
2010-11 Doubles Record: 36-8 (9-2 SEC)
Final Doubles Ranking: No. 1
Smith's senior season was marked by achieving career milestones that have few players in college tennis history have ever reached. He exits as Tennessee's first four-time All-American and just the sixth Vol to earn All-SEC honors every season. He became the first Vol - and just second player in conference history - to collect back-to-back SEC Player of the Year honors. He has held the No. 1 ranking in both singles and doubles, earning ITA Doubles Team of the Year honors not once, but twice with two different teammates. He finished as the Vols' career doubles leader with 146 wins and the career combined singles and doubles lead with 298 wins.

Tennys Sandgren
2010-11 Singles Record:
37-7 (10-1 SEC)
Final Singles Ranking: No. 32
Sandgren's season wrapped up with a spectacular finish as the sophomore upset his way to the semifinals of the NCAA Singles Championships. He ended the team season 21-2 in dual matches and had few opportunities to climb the rankings because he played No. 3 in the lineup. He entered ranked No. 45, but showed his skill in his first college national tournament appearance by beating four players ranked in the top 50 and ending the year with 37 wins. The national end-season ranking of 32 is a career best for the two-time All-SEC performer.

Rhyne Williams
2010-11 Singles Record:
42-10 (9-2 SEC)
Final Singles Ranking: No. 3
Williams played for two of the biggest individual prizes in college tennis, and came away with one of the trophies. In November, he seized the singles title at the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, and he ended the year by becoming the third Vol to ever reached the final of the NCAA Singles Championships, falling to Southern California's Steve Johnson 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the title match. Williams took the No. 1 singles ranking from Smith in January and remained in the top 5 through the end of the year. He has now been a singles All-American twice.

Final ITA National Rankings
Team

No. 4
Singles
No. 3 - Rhyne Williams
No. 10 - John-Patrick Smith
No. 32 - Tennys Sandgren
No. 78 - Matteo Fago
No. 120 - Boris Conkic
Doubles
No. 1 - Boris Conkic/John-Patrick Smith
No. 63 - Tennys Sandgren/Rhyne Williams

ITA All-America
Boris Conkic (Doubles)
Tennys Sandgren (Singles)
John-Patrick Smith (Singles, Doubles)
Rhyne Williams (Singles)

ITA Doubles Team of the Year
Boris Conkic/John-Patrick Smith

Final ITA Ohio Valley Region Rankings
Team

No. 1
Singles
No. 1 - Rhyne Williams
No. 3 - John-Patrick Smith
No. 5 - Tennys Sandgren
No. 8 - Matteo Fago
No. 12 - Boris Conkic
Doubles
No. 1 - Boris Conkic/John-Patrick Smith
No. 6 - Tennys Sandgren/Rhyne Williams

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