Sam Winterbotham and associate head coach Chris Woodruff have made it their goal to build a successful program by preparing players to succeed in matches and off the court as well.
That mission has translated into team, individual and academic success.
On the court, Tennessee is back among the elite tennis programs. The 2010 and 2011 seasons were nothing short of historic for the Vols, as the team captured back-to-back SEC regular-season titles for the first time in program history and made a run to the NCAA title match in 2010. After starting with a nearly brand-new roster in 2012, the Vols returned to the top 10 in 2013 and reached the NCAA quarterfinals for the ninth time in program history and third time in the last four years.
Tennessee finished the 2013 season with a 26-9 record and went 8-4 in the SEC, good for second-place in the conference. The Vols were ranked as high as fifth in the country during the season and were mainstays in the top 10 all year. Featuring all six singles starters returning from 2012, the Vols played their way into the finals of the SEC tournament for the first time since 2010 and qualified for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships for the fifth consecutive year.
Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese, in their second seasons playing 1 and 2 in the lineup, kept the Vols well represented in the individual rankings. After only being ranked as high as 28 as a freshman, Libietis became the first Vol in program history to simultaneously hold the No. 1 ranking in singles and doubles with Reese. Libietis was named the SEC Player of the Year and was voted the ITA National Player to Watch. Libietis, Reese and Jarryd Chaplin earned All-SEC honors.
The victories have begun to add up. Winterbotham has a 159-49 overall record at UT, which is the most wins by a head coach in his first seven seasons on Rocky Top. He also has a 58-20 record in the SEC, including a near-perfect 21-1 mark in 2010 and 2011.
Individually, the Vols have enjoyed a tremendous amount of individual success. During Winterbotham's seven-year tenure, Tennessee has had 14 All-America and 22 All-SEC selections. Fifteen different Vols have been ranked nationally in singles, including three -- Mikelis Libietis (2013), Rhyne Williams (2011) and John-Patrick Smith (2010) -- who have held the No. 1 ranking. Smith was named the SEC Player of the Year in 2010 and 2011, and Libietis picked up the awards trail as a sophomore, being named the conference player of the year in 2013.
In the NCAA singles and doubles tournaments, the Vols produced one finalist every year from 2008-2011. Smith and Williams were singles finalists in 2008 and 2011 respectively, and Smith made it to the title match of the NCAA Doubles Championships with Davey Sandgren in 2009 and 2010.
When it comes to schoolwork, the Vols have been successful there too. The last four years, UT has been named an ITA All-Academic Team with a cumulative grade point average above 3.2. A team-record five Vols were named ITA Scholar-Athletes in 2012, each of them posting a year-long GPA above 3.5.
In Winterbotham's seven seasons, the Vols have earned ITA Scholar Athlete honors 12 times and have been on the SEC Academic Honor Roll 34 times. In addition to on-court accolades, Smith concluded his career by earning an NCAA postgraduate scholarship.
"When you're consistently succeeding both areas, you feel the program is really starting to do what you hoped to do," said Winterbotham. "Chris and I hoped we would have a team that would compete and win championships, and we also want to develop fine, young men that are going to be successful in all aspects of their lives."
Winterbotham was named the 10th coach in Tennessee tennis history on Oct. 24, 2006. He and Woodruff joined forces when Tennessee was ranked No. 50 nationally, but the Vols have quickly vaulted up the charts since then. Tennessee ended 2010 at No. 2 and has finished the last five seasons in the top 25.
COLORADO HEAD COACH (2002-06)
In 2006, Winterbotham, was named ITA/Wilson Mountain Region Coach of the Year and Big 12 Co-Coach of the Year while leading Colorado to a 20-9 record. 2006 was UC's first 20-win season since 1996-97, the team's first NCAA Tournament berth since 1988 (team advanced to the round of 32) and a final ITA ranking of No. 23, a school best.
The 2006 Buffs posted a third-place finish in the Big 12 standings as Colorado recorded its most conference wins since 1998 at 5-2. In his four seasons at Colorado, Winterbotham's teams posted a 42-56 record. The Buffs continually climbed up the Big 12 ladder, finishing sixth in 2003 and 2004, fifth in 2005 and third in 2006.
BAYLOR ASSISTANT COACH (1999-2002)
Prior to his stint in Boulder, Winterbotham spent three years at Baylor, two seasons as a full-time assistant (2000-2002) and one as a volunteer coach (1999-00). During that time he helped the Bears become a national power in the collegiate game.
In addition to assisting Baylor with the day-to-day operation, Winterbotham had a hand in recruiting one of the best teams in the nation that eventually won the first team national championship in Baylor history as the Bears were crowned 2004 NCAA champions.
While at Baylor, Winterbotham was named the 2002 Region VI Assistant Coach of the Year after helping the Bears win the Big 12 regular season and conference tournament. Baylor advanced to the 2002 NCAA Sweet 16 and finished the season ranked seventh nationally.
COLLEGIATE PLAYING CAREER
Prior to coaching, Winterbotham attended Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City where he was a four-year NAIA All-America and ranked No. 1 nationally. In 1997 he won top honors as the NAIA Rolex national singles champion.
At OCU, Winterbotham also was the 1999 Sooner Athletic Conference Player of the Year in soccer, where he was named to the All-Region first team and honorable mention All-America team. He graduated in April 1999 with a degree in marketing and was honored as OCU's 1999 international business student of the year. Winterbotham was inducted into the Oklahoma Christian Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.
A native of Stoke on Trent, England, Winterbotham was born Oct 1, 1973. He is married to the former Tara McClure, a native of Asher, Okla. The Winterbothams' have four daughters, Zoe, Ryann, Sophia and Savanna.