Vol Tennis Eager to Continue Upward Trajectory

Vol Tennis Eager to Continue Upward Trajectory


Success is regularly measured exclusively on wins. Other times, it is calculated by the attainment of goals a team has set in place for itself.

Over the past two seasons, the Tennessee men’s tennis team has checked both of said boxes.

With 54 combined victories during the 2021 and 2022 dual seasons, Tennessee accounted for the program’s third-most wins in any two-year stretch. The Vols tallied 55 total wins in 1990 and 1991, and again from 2010-11. Tennessee also logged 54 combined wins in 1989 and 1990, as well as the 2009 and 2010 dual seasons.

Those 54 wins rank as the third-most total victories nationally over the past two dual seasons.

As far as achieving goals, the Vols won the 2021 SEC Tournament Championship and are the lone program to have made the NCAA team semifinals in each of the previous two seasons. Individually, Adam Walton and Pat Harper captured the 2021 NCAA Doubles National Championship, the third doubles crown in program history. Walton found additional success in the 2022 NCAA Singles Championship, reaching the semifinals of the event to finish with a career-high singles ranking of No. 2 to conclude his Tennessee career.

A LOOK BACK

The Big Orange picked up an early-season statement win on the road at fifth-ranked TCU, leaving Fort Worth with a 4-3 victory as junior and newcomer Angel Diaz clinched the nearly five-hour match.

With the updated ITA rankings the following week, the Vols ascended to the No. 1 position in the ITA Rankings, marking the program’s first time as the nation’s top-ranked team since holding that designation from March 15-21, 2011. Tennessee held the top spot in the ITA rankings for five non-consecutive weeks in 2022.

When Chris Woodruff Was promoted to head coach of the Vols in May 2017 after having been on UT’s coaching staff in some capacity since 2002, Tennessee was ranked No. 43 in the ITA rankings.

The multiple-time ATP Tour champion and former world No. 29 singles player has guided the Vols to sustained success early in his tenure. That has taken the form of a 2021 SEC Tournament title, back-to-back runs to the NCAA Championships semifinals and consecutive top-6 year-end national rankings in 2021 and 2022.

In Tennessee’s first match since overcoming the Horned Frogs, the Vols secured a second top-10 triumph of the young season with a 4-3 home win over No. 10 Wake Forest in Knoxville.

Senior Emile Huddalso in his first season on Rocky Top, clinched the match with his singles victory on court four by winning the third-set tiebreaker.

At the ITA Kickoff Weekend, Tennessee hosted for the second time in three seasons, sweeping Old Dominion and in-state foe Memphis, each in 4-0 fashion to advance to the ITA Indoor National Championships for the second consecutive year.

At those Indoor Championships in Seattle, Tennessee earned three top-13 wins to advance to the championship match. The Vols defeated 12th-ranked Texas A&M, 4-0, No. 13 South Carolina, 4-2, and third-ranked Baylor, 4-2, en route to an appearance in the finals, before dropping a battle to fourth-ranked TCU, 4-1.

Tennessee swept the Mississippi schools on the road to open SEC play, taking down No. 24 Mississippi State, 5-2, and No. 14 Ole Miss, 6-1.

UT sophomore Johannus Monday went down with an injury, which forced him to miss six matches in the heart of the dual season. Despite dropping the first three of those contests, the Vols rebounded with three consecutive wins, beginning with a 4-3 come-from-behind victory on the road at 25th-ranked Texas A&M on March 25, which is also secured career head coaching victory No. 100 for Woodruff. The Vols capped that weekend road trip with a 4-1 win at LSU, before returning home for a 6-1 victory over the Razorbacks of Arkansas.

Later, on the road at Vanderbilt, freshman Shunsuke Mitsui battled back from being down a set and a break to win and give Tennessee a 4-3 victory in Nashville.

In the SEC Tournament, Tennessee defeated Alabama for the second time in three matches, doing so 4-0 on April 21 to advance to the quarterfinals. There, the Vols brought the energy needed to knock off the host Georgia Bulldogs and advance to the semifinal round with a 4-1 win.

Its run would end there, but Tennessee was soon after named the sixth overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. After a sweep of Tennessee Tech in the opening round, UT took a 4-1 decision over Duke to advance to the Super Regionals, where they swept 28th-ranked Florida State, 4-0.

In Champaign, Illinois, for the NCAA Championships, Tennessee advanced to the program’s eighth NCAA semifinal with a 4-3 victory over third-ranked Baylor. After Adam Walton evened the match at 3-all by overcoming a 3-5 third-set deficit, Mitsui clinched his eighth match point of the season to send the Vols to the semis.

In 2022, Tennessee saw a pair of Vols—Adam Walton and Johannus Monday—earn first-team All-SEC honors, while Emile Hudd and Shunsuke Mitsui brought home second-team All-SEC recognition.

After five Vols were named to the NCAA Singles & Doubles Championships, three of those five—Walton, Monday and Harper—achieved All-America status.

It goes without saying that a strong foundation has been laid on Rocky Top. The Vols are in a position for sustained success behind the leadership of Coach Woodruff.

Tennessee is not yet satisfied and will only look to continue its march toward its ultimate goals: Championships.

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