March 4, 2010
The second-ranked Tennessee Volunteers begin the Southeastern Conference schedule on the road Friday against No. 56 Auburn.
The Vols (11-1) are 1-1 on the road this season after defeating No. 20 Wake Forest 4-3 last week. Auburn (3-4) is coming off a 4-2 loss to Tulsa and tumbled 21 spots in the rankings as a result.
For a closer look at the SEC season and the conference-opening matchup, here's are a few notes to consider:
A Whirlwind Tour of 2009
Last SEC season was, after all, almost an entire year ago now, so here's a rundown of the conference season that was.
The Vols finished 8-3 in the SEC in 2009, good for second in the Eastern Division and the third-best record overall. They posted a 5-0 record at home and went an even 3-3 on the road. Losses came against Ole Miss the first weekend, Kentucky and Georgia.
Tennessee later picked up wins against Kentucky and Georgia in the first two rounds of the SEC Tournament. The Vols reached the championship match before losing 4-2 to regular-season champion Ole Miss in the finals.
The top three in the Vols' lineup each finished with at least seven conference wins. Junior Boris Conkic led the way for the Vols at No. 2, going 9-1 with six of those matches against ranked opponents. Junior John-Patrick Smith and junior Matteo Fago went 7-2 at the first and third positions.
Smith and Fago earned first-team All-SEC honors. Conkic was named to the second team.
In January's preseason SEC coaches poll, the Vols were picked to win the Eastern Division and received 10 of the 12 votes to win the overall conference title. In terms of overall record, Tennessee is the only team in the Eastern Division with just one loss. In the Western Division, Ole Miss has an 8-1 record.
Auburn and Alabama, both members of the Western Division, were picked to third and fifth respectively.
Last Time Against Auburn
The Vols faced Auburn in dual match play twice in 2009, and both meetings resulted in victories. Tennessee defeated Auburn 4-2 in the semifinals of the Blue-Gray Classic en route to the tournament title in March.
In SEC play, the Vols won again, defeating Auburn 4-1 at home. Conkic clinched the match with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Tim Puetz at the No. 2 position. The last time the two schools have met in Auburn, Tennessee came away with a 4-3 win in 2008.
Tennessee leads the series 31-15.
A Win Away
Senior Davey Sandgren enters Friday with 99 career doubles wins, just one shy of the 100th in his career.
Only two Tennessee players in history have reached that marker: Byron Talbot and Shelby Cannon, who each played from 1985-88. Talbot still leads the category with 131 wins, and Cannon has 128.
Now in his fourth season in Tennessee uniform, Sandgren is currently third on the career doubles list with 61 of his victories coming with Smith. The two of them have a 22-3 record this season and have risen back to second in the national rankings.
Smith is not far behind in the doubles category, having picked up win No. 91 with Sandgren last week against Wake Forest.
Sandgren and Smith have won 11 doubles matches in a row to kick off 2010, a best for them as a pairing. The started the fall season by reeling off seven consecutive wins.
Conkic and Williams, currently up to fifth in the rankings, have won nine consecutive this spring. They have an 18-2 record.
Both doubles teams were named to the ITA National Indoor Championship All-Tournament Team after posting undefeated records.