Success is regularly measured exclusively on wins. Other times, it is calculated by the achievement of goals that a team has set.
Over the past two seasons, the Tennessee men’s tennis team has ticked both of those boxes.
With 54 wins combined over the two 2021 and 2022 seasons, Tennessee accounted for the program’s third-most wins over a two-year span. The Vols had 55 overall wins in 1990 and 1991 and again in 2010-11. Tennessee also recorded 54 combined wins in 1989 and 1990, as well as the 2009 and 2010 double seasons.
Those 54 wins rank third in wins nationally over the past two double seasons.
In terms of goal achievement, the Vols won the 2021 SEC Tournament Championship and are the only program to reach the NCAA Team Semifinals in each of the previous two seasons. Individually, Adam Walton and Pat Harper won the 2021 NCAA National Doubles Championship, the third doubles crown in program history. Walton found further success in the 2022 NCAA Singles Championship, reaching the semi-finals of the event to finish with a singles ranking of No. 2 to conclude his career at Tennessee.
A LOOK BACK
The Big Orange picked up an early-season win on the road ranked fifth in the TCU, leaving Fort Worth with a 4-3 victory as a junior and newcomer. Angel Diaz won the game by nearly five hours.
With the ITA Rankings updated the following week, the Vols climbed to No. 1 in the ITA Rankings, marking the first time the program has been the highest-ranked team in the country since holding that designation from 15th to 21st. March 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 the UT coaching staff in some capacity since 2002, Tennessee was ranked No. 43 in the ITA rankings.
The multiple ATP Tour champion and former world No. 29 in singles guided the Vols to sustained success early in his tenure. That came in the form of a 2021 SEC Tournament title, back-to-back runs to the NCAA Championship semi-finals, and back-to-back year-end top-6 national finishes in 2021 and 2022.
In Tennessee’s first game since defeating the Horned Frogs, the Vols earned a second top-10 triumph of the young season with a 4-3 win at home to No. 10 Wake Forest in Knoxville.
Senior Emile Huddalso in his first season on Rocky Top, won the match with his singles victory on court four winning the third set tiebreaker.
On the ITA kickoff weekend, Tennessee hosted for the second time in three seasons, sweeping Old Dominion and state foe Memphis each 4-0 to qualify for the Indoor Nationals. of the ITA for the second consecutive year.
At those indoor championships in Seattle, Tennessee had three top-13 wins to advance to the championship game. The Flights have defeated 12e-ranked Texas A&M, 4-0, No. 13 South Carolina, 4-2, and third-ranked Baylor, 4-2, en route to a Finals appearance before dropping a battle against fourth-ranked TCU , 4-1.
Tennessee swept Mississippi schools on the road to open SEC play, knocking out No. 24 Mississippi State, 5-2, and No. 14 Ole Miss, 6-1.
UT second year Johannus Monday fell through an injury, which forced him to miss six matches at the heart of the double season. Despite dropping the top three of those contests, the Vols rebounded with three straight wins, starting with a 4-3 win from behind on the road at age 25.e-ranked Texas A&M on March 25, which also secured the No. 100 career head coaching win for Woodruff. The Vols capped off this weekend on the road with a 4-1 win at LSU, before heading home for a 6-1 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Later, on the road to Vanderbilt, freshman Shunsuke Mitsui struggled after dropping 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, making it 4–0 on April 21 to advance to the quarterfinals. There, the Vols brought the energy to knock out host Georgia Bulldogs and advance to the semifinals with a 4-1 win.
Its run would end there, but Tennessee was named the sixth seed in the NCAA Tournament shortly after. After a first-round sweep of Tennessee Tech, UT took a 4-1 decision over Duke to advance to the Super Regionals, where they swept 28e-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 win over third-placed Baylor. After Adam Walton tied the game at 3-while overcoming a 3-5 third-set deficit, Mitsui picked up his eighth match point of the season to send the Vols into the semi-finals.
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 earned second-team All-SEC recognition.
After five Vols were named to NCAA singles and doubles championships, three of those five – Walton, Monday and Harper – achieved All-America status.
It goes without saying that a solid foundation has been laid on Rocky Top. The Vols are poised for continued success under Coach Woodruff.
Tennessee is not yet satisfied and will only seek to continue its march towards its ultimate goals: the championships.