June 23, 2014
The Wimbledon fortnight started today, and 2011 SEC Athlete of the Year John-Patrick Smith will be representing the Vols on the grass courts of the All England Club.
Find yourself a big bowl of strawberries and cream and quiet, please: it's time for some Tennessee notes ...
SMITH RETURNS TO GRAND SLAM STAGEJohn-Patrick Smith was playing the Asia hard courts and missed the French Open, but he's back on the Grand Slam scene this week at Wimbledon.
Smith, ranked No. 81 in the ATP world doubles ranking, enjoyed his best slam result at last year's Wimbledon. He and fellow Aussie Paul Hanley reached the second round and pushed the third-seeded team of Alexander Peya and Bruna Soares to the brink before losing a five setter 4-6, 6-1, 6-7 (6), 7-5, 10-8.
This year, Smith is playing with a new teammate who knows how to play his way to the winner's circle: Great Britain's Jonathan Marray.
Marray, a 33-year old veteran of the tour, won the 2012 Wimbledon title with Frederik Nielsen in a upset championship run. Tennessee fans might recognize Nielsen as a frequent participant in the annual Knoxville Challenger at Goodfriend Tennis Center.
Smith has won one doubles title so far this year, getting his third consecutive Burnie Challenger title in Australia early in the year. He made several final appearances in doubles during his swing through Asia with former Texas A&M star Austin Krajicek.
So far in 2014, Smith's most notable success has come in singles. He qualified for the BNP Paribas in Indian Wells, Calif., to make his ATP Masters debut earlier this year. He also made the finals of the Taipei Challenger in May. His success has pushed him into the top 200 of the ATP singles rankings for the first time.
A LOOK BACK AT QUALIESSmith and Rhyne Williams both played in singles qualifying at Wimbledon and came up short.
Smith lost to 30th-seeded Farrukh Dustov of Uzbekistan 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round. Williams won his first match against Great Britain's Joshua Milton in three sets but lost a three setter the next day to former Wimbledon junior champion Luke Saville of Australia.
Tennys Sandgren has been out of action for most of this year recovering from hip surgery. He has missed both the French Open and Wimbledon as he prepares to return to the tour.
REA'S RISING STARFormer Vol Simon Rea (2002-04) will be on the grounds this week in his usual role as coach.
Rea is one of many Vols to coach on the circuit or at a club after his playing days, earning a position working with high performance juniors and pros at Tennis Australia. Rea is currently working with one of Australia's fast rising young stars: Nick Kyrgios.
Kyrgios, 19, is making his fourth consecutive appearance in a Grand Slam main draw. He is ranked a career-high No. 144 and earned a Wimbledon wild card by winning the Nottingham Challenger. In his first round at Wimbledon, he faces Stephane Robert of France.
Rea's work has garnered notice. At the 2013 Australian Tennis Awards, he was the winner of Coaching Excellence - High Performance.
As a Vol, Rea was an All-American and three-time All-SEC recipient. The new Zealand lefty won 87 singles matches during his career, which ranks 14th on the UT career wins list. As a senior, he ended the season ranked 37th in singles and 10th in doubles with Damien Spizzo.