Last week the SEC announced the cancellation of all regular season conference and non-conference competitions and the remaining SEC championships for the 2019-2020 athletic year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With no tennis to be played in the near future, now is a good time to look back and see how the Vols’ season went.
Though Tennessee’s campaign was cut short, it can only be described as a successful one. A year removed from a 22-8 record and an appearance in the SEC championship, many people expected the Vols to take a step back, especially with the loss of two former All-Americans Preston Touliatos and Timo Stodder.
However, the Vols got off to a hot start and never looked back. They rattled off six straight wins to start their season, including a win against No. 22 Oklahoma. Over that stretch of matches, the Vols shut out their opponents five times — four times by a perfect score of 7-0.
After a loss to No. 18 Colombia, Tennessee won five straight matches heading into SEC play.
Tennessee dropped its first SEC match, a 2-4 loss, to No. 35 Georgia. The Vols won their next three matches, including two SEC matches, to finish the shortened season at 14-2 and 2-1 in the SEC.
Perhaps the biggest reason for Tennessee’s success this season was junior Adam Walton. The Home Hill, Australia native earned All-SEC honors last season and played just as well this season.
Walton was the Vols’ best player in singles play. He ranked as high as No. 13, and he won his first 10 singles matches of the season. Walton finished the shortened season with a 22-5 overall record, as the No. 31 ranked player in the nation and as the Vols’ leader on the court.
Sophomore Pat Harper was another big contributor for the Vols. He had a breakout season and played especially well towards the latter portion of the year. Harper won four of his last five singles matches playing on court six. In doubles, paired with junior Mark Wallner, Harper won four matches in a row before going unfinished in what turned out to be the last match against Austin Peay.
Harper will be a junior next year and looks to have an increased role for the Vols as an upperclassman.
The Vols were solid in doubles play this season. They won 11 of their 16 doubles sets, getting ahead early and often. It did help that Tennessee boasted one of the better doubles pairs in the nation, graduate student Giles Hussey and junior Andrew Rogers.
Ranked as high as No. 50, Hussey and Rogers led Tennessee in effective doubles play that more often than not put the Vols up 1-0 heading into singles play.
Another strong doubles pairings included Walton and sophomore Martim Prata, who had a 7-3 record together, and senior Scott Jones and Hussey who had a 5-0 record in doubles together.
Senior Luca Wiedenmann also turned in a strong performance for Tennessee. Though he did not play in any doubles matches, he was a force to be reckoned with in singles — finishing with a 14-3 record.
Wiedenmann and Jones, the Volunteers’ two seniors, could both benefit from the extra year of eligibility the NCAA is granting to seniors in spring sports. Neither player has decided anything yet, but the Vols would improve tremendously if the pair stayed for another year.
Regardless of the abrupt end to the season, Tennessee impressed this year on the court. The team entered the pre-season ranked at No. 18 and blew past all expectations. The Vols were ranked as high as No. 10 at one point in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season.
Even in the midst of the long break from tennis, there is much for Tennessee fans to be excited about heading into the new season.