June 21, 2011
John-Patrick Smith finished his record-setting tennis career at Tennessee in May, but the awards keep coming.
A week after formally becoming Tennessee's first four-time All-American on the court, Smith was honored for his academic accomplishments by receiving one of the NCAA postgraduate scholarships.
Smith was one of three Tennessee student-athletes to earn the one-time $7,500 scholarship this school year, joining Nikki Fowler of the volleyball team and Geoff Sanders of the swimming and diving team.
The NCAA awards 174 of these postgraduate scholarships annually to individuals who are completing their playing eligibility and have excelled in both athletics and academics. When it comes to both of those categories, few have been more successful than Smith.
At the top of the lineup, Smith helped guide the Vols to back-to-back SEC regular-season titles for the first time in program history while becoming the second conference player to ever be named SEC Player of the Year twice. He held the national No. 1 ranking in both singles and doubles and was part of the ITA Doubles Team of the Year twice with two different partners.
In terms of Tennessee history, the lefty from Townsville, Australia, finished his time in Knoxville as the career leader in combined singles and doubles wins with 298. He also became the career doubles leader with 146 victories.
In the classroom, Smith also led the Vols there too. He paced the team in GPA more often than not every semester, and ended his senior year with an average over 3.50, making him eligible to earn ITA Scholar-Athlete honors for the third year running.
Now a month removed from college tennis, Smith is launching his professional playing career this week at the MIMA Foundation Pro Tennis Classic, an ITF Futures event in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. He won all four matches of singles qualifying in straight sets to make the main draw where he will face second-seeded Dayne Kelly, who is ranked No. 390 in the world.
Rhyne Williams and Tennys Sandgren, fresh of their All-American sophomore seasons, are also competing at Indian Harbour. They are both in the singles draw and are also the second-seeded doubles pairing.
Boris Conkic, the now-graduated senior who was part of the ITA Doubles Team of the Year with Smith, is scheduled hit the Futures circuit in his home country of Serbia later this month.
NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships
Tennessee Recipients 2010-11
Nikki Fowler, volleyball
Geoff Sanders, men's swimming and diving
John-Patrick Smith, men's tennis