Jan. 27, 2011
The third-ranked Tennessee Volunteers host three schools for the third-annual ITA Kick-Off Weekend on Friday and Saturday at the Goodfriend Tennis Center.
The Vols (1-0) play No. 47 San Diego (2-0) on Friday at 1 p.m. in the opening round. Clemson and USC Upstate follow at 4 p.m.
On Saturday, a consolation match is scheduled for 11 a.m. and the championship between Friday's winners will follow at approximately 3 p.m. The winner of the championship earns a spot in the elite 16-team field at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle from Feb. 18-21.
All weekend matches are free to attend.
A live interactive blog will be available for Tennessee's matches, as well as live scoring for all matches at UTSports.com.
Tennessee opened the season with a 7-0 victory over East Tennessee State last Friday. The Vols won doubles on all three courts and then swept the singles matches in straight sets, and sophomore Rhyne Williams debuted at the top of the Vols' singles lineup. Seniors John-Patrick Smith and Boris Conkic played their first dual match together atop the doubles lineup.
Still No. 3
The Vols remained third nationally in the ITA national team poll, which was released Tuesday. The next round of team rankings will be sent out Feb. 3, at which time the ITA will likely post the draw for the National Indoors.
Tennessee started the 2010 season fifth in the rankings but rose to second after reaching the finals of the National Indoors.
The next round of national individual rankings will be released Feb. 17. Williams is currently ranked No. 1 nationally, followed by Smith at No. 21 and senior Matteo Fago at No. 38.
Now in his fifth season, Sam Winterbotham enters Friday with a 95-21 record as head coach of the Volunteers. With five more wins, he would become the fourth UT tennis coach to reach 100 victories, joining Mike DePalmer Sr. (1981-94; 299 wins), Michael Fancutt (1998-2004; 123) and Louis Royal (1968-76; 120 wins).
DePalmer was the fastest coach to 100 victories, doing so in just 137 matches. Winterbotham has a chance to reach that milestone in 121 matches.
For the record:
95-21: Winterbotham's record at UT
29-1: His record in regular-season home matches against non-conference opponents
14-0: His career record in matches played in January
Scouting San Diego
The Toreros enter the ITA Kick-Off Weekend with a 2-0 record and rose to No. 47 in the ITA national rankings following the two victories. San Diego is led at the top of the lineup by senior Dean Jackson, who is ranked 31st nationally. Patrick Pohlmann and Nikola Bubnic were nationally ranked in the September rankings. The Toreros also boast the seventh-ranked doubles team of Jackson and Pohlmann.
Williams narrowly defeated Jackson in their only meeting 3-6, 7 -6, 7-6 at the National Collegiate Tennis Classic to open the 2010 spring season.
The Vols and San Diego have faced each other just one time in the last 20 years, with the Vols winning 5-3 in 1991.
Going for 10
Williams has a nine-match winning streak on the line entering Friday's match. His winning ways started during his title run through the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships starting Nov. 4. His career-best singles winning streak was 17 matches from March 14 until May 27 last season.
Senior Boris Conkic enters Friday with 93 wins in both singles and doubles. With seven more wins in each category, he would become the fourth Volunteer to reach 100 singles and 100 doubles victories in a career.
If this accomplishment sounds familiar, senior John-Patrick Smith reached both milestones as a junior midway through last season. Byron Talbot and Shelby Cannon, the Vols' stars in the mid-1980s, are the only other two to accomplish the feat.
Smith currently has 129 wins in singles (fourth all-time) and 122 wins in doubles (third all-time).
Speaking of Talbot
Smith is only nine doubles victories away from tying Byron Talbot for the UT career lead in doubles wins by an individual. Talbot won 131 matches from 1985-88, with 102 of them coming with Shelby Cannon.
Interestingly, Smith has been ranked in the top 10 nationally in doubles with four teammates: Kaden Hensel, Davey Sandgren, Conkic and Williams. Smith and Sandgren reached the NCAA Doubles Championship in 2009 and 2010.
Tennessee has won the doubles point in the last 14 matches, including the matches played on the Vols' way to the finals of the NCAA Championships. The Vols won the doubles point in 32 of 33 matches last season, losing the first point only to Mississippi State.
Matteo Fago and Edward Jones also have a doubles streak going dating back to last year's postseason. They have won six consecutive matches played together at the No. 3 doubles slot. They were undefeated in the NCAA Championships and were named to the all-tournament team.
Fago and Jones have a 15-5 record as a pairing.