Feb. 11, 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- It's practically an understatement to say the Tennessee Volunteers have played their first-round opponent in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships recently.
The Vols (7-0) defeated Illinois 6-1 on Sunday afternoon in Knoxville. They face the very same Fighting Illini squad Friday at 3 p.m. at the Boar's Head Sports Club.
Tennessee reworked the lineup, with junior Boris Conkic moving up a position to the No. 1 spot. He and freshman Rhyne Williams, ranked 12th, played at No. 1 doubles for the first time. Senior Davey Sandgren and freshman Edward Jones played at the Nos. 5 and 6 positions, both picking up wins.
Illinois (3-2) is led at the top of the singles and doubles lineup by 43rd-ranked Dennis Nevolo. Conkic defeated him 6-3, 7-6 to clinch the match.
Neither Rain, Nor Sleet
The Vols departed Knoxville on Wednesday afternoon under snowy skies towards Charlottesville, Va., which has received blizzard-like amounts of snow in the last two weeks. Good news is that the team arrived safely at the Boar's Head for practice in the evening.
The Vols are set for another practice in the afternoon today with a tournament reception in the evening.
In facts that have almost no practical purpose, it's been 20 years since the Vols played a team in consecutive meetings. Tennessee defeated Ole Miss to end the regular season in 1990, then defeated them again in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
That season, the Vols collected a record 34 wins and reached the finals at the NCAA Championships.
Countdown from 9
It's time to start crossing numbers off the chart. Smith is starting the tournament just nine singles victories away from the 100th in his career. Only six Vols in history have cracked 100 wins.
Smith, ranked second nationally, picked up his 91st win last week against No. 105 John Peers of MTSU. He is now 22-4 this season and on pace to surpass his win total of 36 recorded during his sophomore season. He has been ranked in the ITA top 10 since March 17, 2009. Last season, he vaulted from No. 50 to No. 9 following the Indoor Championships.
Not Far Behind
Williams became the second Vol behind Smith to reach 20 singles victories this season after stepping into the No. 2 position to get a win over Illinois' Johnny Hamui. He currently has a 20-4 record.
The UT record for wins in a season for a freshman is a pretty lofty number, 43, set in 1999 by three-time All-America Peter Handoyo. Conkic holds the freshman record for best winning percentage for a freshman after going 28-6 (.826) in 2008.
10 for 10
Conkic has not lost a match since starting 2010. He opened the year by winning the SEC Indoors title and has won 10 consecutive matches heading into the Indoor Championships. His career best for consecutive wins is 12, set last season. He is currently ranked 68th and has a 16-4 record this season.
Following the Tournament
An interactive, live blog of all the Vols' tournament matches will be available at UTSports.com. Live scoring and a day-by-day tournament schedule can be found here.