July 21, 2010
During the spring semester, the tennis team accomplished what no men's program has done before: lead the entire Tennessee athletic department in team grade point average.
The Vols captured the SEC regular season and tournament titles and reached the final of the NCAA Tennis Championships, all while compiling a 3.48 GPA as a team. They have paced the men's programs in GPA the last four semesters and became the first men's program to earn the highest average among all UT sports since the team GPA competition began.
In addition to earning the highest spring GPA on campus, Tennessee also qualified to become an ITA All-Academic Team after posting a 3.34 GPA for the full school year. The Vols also won the ITA award in 2009.
Sam Winterbotham and Chris Woodruff, who have been coaching together at UT the last four seasons, have stressed the importance of excellence on the court as well as in academics. In 2010, Tennessee set a pair of program records when five Vols were All-SEC selections and nine were named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
"We want them to win championships, but we also want them to be champions in the classroom," said Winterbotham, who was named SEC Coach of the Year. "We had the goal to be an Academic All-America team, which we did. At the same time, we also accomplished our goal of winning an SEC title, and we finished just one win away from the NCAA title. The commitment they've shown this year in both areas, it makes us immensely proud as coaches."
Summer is the season for academic awards, and the Vols have already taken home their share of individual accolades with more to come from the ITA next month.
Impressively, all nine Vols eligible for the SEC Academic Honor Roll made the list, including Davey Sandgren, who earned the award for a fourth time while majoring in aerospace engineering. The eight additional award winners are: Matt Brewer (Geography), Boris Conkic (Sport Management), Matteo Fago (Economics), Taylor Patrick (Accounting), John-Patrick Smith (Economics), Max Stevens (Communication Studies), Bryan Swartz (Business) and Christopher Williams (Criminal Justice).
Edward Jones and Rhyne Williams were named to the SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll.
In May, Smith also became the first Vol in seven years to be named to the ESPN the Magazine CoSIDA Academic All-District Team, an award which honors an athlete's accomplishments in academics as well as in team competition. On the court, Smith earned his third All-America honor and was ranked No. 1 nationally in singles and doubles for a time during the season.
Smith and Fago, who both finished their junior years as Economics majors, will be named ITA Scholar-Athletes next month. Patrick, an economics major, also made the list.
"We've got great character on this team, and that's something we look for in our players," Winterbotham said. "They make doing this job an absolute pleasure. I'm just as proud of their off-court accomplishments as I am of what they've accomplished on the court."
Scott Swain, an associate director at the Thornton Athletic Student Life Center, has worked with the tennis team and echoed Winterbotham's sentiments.
"Our men's tennis program has a championship mentality both on and off the court," Swain said. "I am very proud of the guys on achieving their goal to have the highest team GPA among all sports at Tennessee. With the bright student-athletes we have here at UT, it is a great accomplishment. With an SEC Championship, NCAA runner up finish and these academic achievements, it was a tremendous year for the team."
ESPN the Magazine CoSIDA Academic All-District
John-Patrick Smith (Second Team)