Feb. 15, 2011
The third-ranked Tennessee Volunteers will get a taste of SEC competition a few weeks earlier than originally scheduled.
The Vols face 14th-ranked Georgia on Friday in the first round of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle, the ITA released Tuesday.
The match starts at 9 a.m. Pacific time and will be played at the Nordstrom Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Washington. Half the matches will be played at Nordstrom and the rest will take place at the Seattle Tennis Club.
Virginia, the tournament's top seed, faces host Washington in the first round. Second-seeded Southern California, the back-to-back NCAA champion, plays Duke.
The Vols (6-0) are off to an undefeated start through a tough non-conference schedule that has included three teams that are in the 16-team National Indoors field: No. 9 Illinois, No. 12 Louisville and No. 17 Duke. Four of the Vols' six matches have been shutout victories.
New individual rankings came out Monday for the first time in more than a month, and sophomore Rhyne Williams remained at the top of the singles rankings, thanks to 7 of his 21 wins coming against opponents ranked in the top 10. Tennessee had four others in the rankings: John-Patrick Smith (No. 17), Tennys Sandgren (No. 46), Matteo Fago (No. 68) and Boris Conkic (No. 119). Smith and Conkic debuted at eighth in the doubles rankings after starting the year 9-1.
Georgia (5-2) dropped from 11th to 14th in Monday's team rankings following a 4-3 upset loss last week to Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
From a personnel standpoint, the Bulldogs have a very different squad than last season. Seniors Javier Garrapiz and Drake Bernstein the only Georgia players who were in the lineup against the Vols last season. Georgia has three players ranked in singles: SEC Indoors champion Wil Spencer at No. 12, Garrapiz at No. 24 and Sadio Doumbia at No. 31. UGA has three teams ranked in doubles, led by 12th-ranked Garrapiz and Hernus Pieters, who handed Smith and Conkic their only loss in the finals of the SEC Indoors in January.
Tennessee won both meetings against Georgia last season, winning 6-1 in the regular season at home and 4-1 in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships, which were played on Georgia's home courts. While Georgia leads the all-time series, the Vols and Bulldogs have split their last 10 meetings 5-5.
Friday marks the first time Tennessee and Georgia have faced each other at a neutral site since 2001.
Last season, the Vols reached the finals of the National Indoors for the first time since 1993. They won the doubles point and then lost 4-1 to three-time defending champion Virginia on the Cavaliers' home courts in Charlottesville.
ITA National Team Indoor Championships
Seattle, Feb. 18-21
First-Round Matches (All times Pacific)
(3) Tennessee vs. (14) Georgia, 9 a.m.
(6) UCLA vs. (11) Louisville, 9 a.m.
(7) Stanford vs. (10) Florida, noon
(2) Southern California vs. (15) Duke, noon
(4) Ohio State vs. (13) Texas Tech, 3:30 p.m.
(5) Texas vs. (12) Kentucky, 3:30 p.m.
(1) Virginia vs. (16) Washington, 6:30 p.m.
(8) Illinois vs. (9) Texas A&M, 6:30 p.m.