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Tennessee to Host First of Two Meetings with Illinois
Rhyne Williams

Rhyne Williams

Feb. 6, 2010

The fifth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers play their final home match in more than a month Sunday, hosting 12th-ranked Illinois.

The Vols and the Fighting Illini start things off at Goodfriend Tennis Center with doubles at noon. The two schools face off again Friday in the first round of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Charlottesville, Va.

Tennessee (6-0) has shut out five of six opponents this season and has not lost a doubles match. The Vols defeated Middle Tennessee 7-0 and The Citadel 6-1 on Wednesday.

Illinois (3-1) is coming off a 5-2 victory Friday over 21st-ranked Duke.

Here are some facts and figures to consider:

Matching the Record

Move over 1964.

The Vols started out the year with five consecutive shutouts, equalling the 46-year-old school record. The 2010 edition of the Vols swept East Tennessee State, Chattaganooga, Utah, South Carolina and MTSU.

Tennessee's season record for shutouts in a season is 10, set in 1965. UT Hall of Fame player then coach Tommy Bartlett headed the Vols squad in both shutout-happy seasons before coaching the team to the SEC Championship in 1966.

Countdown from Nine

It's time to start crossing numbers off the chart. Junior John-Patrick Smith is now 9 wins away from his 100th win in singles. Only six Vols in history have cracked 100 wins.

Smith, ranked second nationally, picked up his 91st win Wednesday against No. 105 John Peers of MTSU. He has played at the No. 1 position in all dual matches he has appeared in this season is still a team-leading 22-4.

He has been ranked in the ITA top 10 since March 17, 2009.

The Winning Continues

Junior Boris Conkic has not lost a match since the start of 2010 and is currently riding a 9-match winning streak. He started the new year with by capturing the SEC Indoors singles title has been playing at the No. 2 position all season.

 

 

Junior Matteo Fago is not far behind, having won eight in a row. His streak started by winning the backdraw of the National Collegiate Tennis Class in Palm Springs, Calif.

Going for No. 20

Freshman Rhyne Williams, ranked 22nd, is shooting to become the second Vol with 20 singles wins this season. He currently has a 19-4 record with six wins against ranked opponents.

The UT record for wins in a season for a freshman is a rather lofty number, 43, set in 1999 by three-time All-America Peter Handoyo. Conkic holds the freshman record for best winning percentage in a season, finishing 28-6 (.826) in 2008.

Whattabout Illinois?

The Fighting Illini currently have one ranked player in singles: Dennis Nevolo at No. 43. He played at the No. 1 singles position against Duke's No. 17 Henrique Cunha, losing 6-4, 7-6.

Tennessee should be familiar with the player at Illinois' second singles player, Johnny Hamui. The junior played his first two seasons at Florida before transferring.

In its three victories this year, Illinois has won the doubles point. Although the Fighting Illini have the second-ranked pairing in the country, Nevolo and Marek Czerwinski, the two have not played together in a dual match this spring. Nevolo has been playing No. 1 with Hamui, and Czerwinski has teamed up with Stephen Hoh.

Kick-Off Weekend

Both teams played host in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, the national event held at 15 sites around the country with 15 invitations to the Indoor Championships on the line.

The Vols breezed through Sunday and Monday, with a 7-0 win against Utah and a 4-0 victory over South Carolina. Illinois didn't struggle much either to gain entry into the Indoor Championships. The Fighting Illini beat Virginia Tech 6-1 and Washington 7-0.

Sunday's Coverage

Live stats and a live, interactive blog, which begins approximately 15 minutes before the noon start, are available at UTSports.com.

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