June 4, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee women's golf team added one final highlight to its remarkable 2008-09 season as the Lady Vols finished the spring with their best ranking of the season - No. 20 - in the final Golfstat Head-to-Head Standings released Wednesday.
After finishing 15th and 16th, respectively, at the first two tournaments of the season, the Cougar Classic and Mason Rudolph in September, UT plummeted to No. 72 in the Golfstat rankings. A trip to the NCAA Regionals, not to mention an invitation to the NCAA Championships, was in jeopardy.
The Lady Vols only got better as the season progressed, however, moving an incredible 52 spots from their lowest ranking of the season.
The Lady Vols began to turn the season around at their host tournament, the Mercedes-Benz Women's Collegiate Championships, in October, where they placed eighth, and continued their momentum by going 2-1 in the consolation bracket of the Hooters Match Play Tournament in November to wrap up the fall portion of the season. Tennessee rose to 46th in the Golfstat standings at the end of the fall campaign.
A second-place finish at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic, followed by the return of senior Nicole Smith and three consecutive eighth-place finishes amongst highly competitive fields at the Wildcat Invitational, UCF Challenge and Bryan National Collegiate, vaulted the Lady Vols all the way up to No. 29 heading into the postseason.
Tennessee placed fourth at the Southeastern Conference Championship and rose to No. 26 at the start of May, before completing its extraordinary season turnaround with a third-place finish and fifth NCAA Championships invitation in six years at the NCAA East Regional in Gainesville, Fla., on May 9.
The Lady Vols' NCAA East Regional finish enabled the Big Orange to crack the Golfstat top-25 for the first time all season as it headed into the NCAA Championships in Owings Mills, Md., from May 19-22, ranked No. 24. Despite a disappointing 17th-place finish at the national championship tournament, UT was still able to climb another four spots and cap the season ranked 20th.
Golfstat is the main rankings system used by the NCAA to determine seeding for regional tournaments and the national championships, as well as by the coaches committee which selects the All-America teams.
In the Golfworld/NGCA Coaches' Poll, the Lady Vols ranked No. 25 in the preseason poll, but quickly stopped receiving votes in the fall. Throughout the spring, UT was on the edge of returning to the coaches' poll, consistently finishing in the top-30 votes received, and ended the season as the first team left out of the top-25. In the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings, a rankings system similar to Golfstat, Tennessee remained outside of the top-50 until the spring and made a similar progression up the Golfweek standings over the final weeks before closing out the season at No. 24.
Additionally the 2008-09 Lady Vol golf campaign brought head coach Judi Pavon her seventh 100-win season, Smith her third All-SEC award and freshman Nathalie Mansson her first All-SEC and All-Region honors. Smith and Mansson joined juniors Ginny Brown and Diana Cantú and sophomore Lauren Spurlock on the eighth Lady Vol golf team to compete at the NCAA Championships.
Final Golfstat 2008-09 Head-to-Head Standings
1. Arizona State
9. North Carolina
11. Wake Forest
17. Michigan State
22. Kent State
24. New Mexico