March 10, 2011
The second-ranked Tennessee Volunteers hit the road for three matches in five days, starting with a test against 11th-ranked Kentucky on Friday at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex.
The match starts at 2 p.m. Eastern, which is one hour earlier than originally scheduled. Live blog coverage is available at UTSports.com.
The Vols (12-1, 2-0 SEC) are coming off a pair home victories to open SEC play, beating Alabama 6-1 and Auburn 5-2. The Vols played through the conference schedule with an undefeated 11-0 record last year on their way to the regular-season title and have won 13 consecutive SEC matches.
Friday starts a challenging road schedule for the Vols. After facing Kentucky, Tennessee travels to 23rd-ranked Vanderbilt for a Sunday match and then heads to Waco, Texas, for its final non-conference match of the season against Baylor on Tuesday.
The Vols have won their last eight road matches, including two wins this year against fourth-ranked Duke and sixth-ranked Ilinois.
Still No. 2
The Vols remained second nationally in the ITA team computer rankings, which were released Tuesday. Five Vols are ranked in the singles rankings: sophomore Rhyne Williams at No. 3, senior John-Patrick Smith at No. 13, sophomore Tennys Sandgren at No. 35, senior Matteo Fago at No. 41 and senior Boris Conkic at No. 113.
All three of the Vols' regular doubles pairings are ranked with Conkic and Smith leading the country in the top spot. Fago and sophomore Edward Jones are ranked 52nd, and Williams and Sandgren are ranked 55th. Last weekend, Williams and Sandgren picked up their first two ranked wins as a pairing.
The Wildcats (13-3, 2-0) were flawless in their first road conference trip of the season, beating Mississippi and Mississippi State. They are led at the top of the lineup by Eric Quigley, who is ranked fifth nationally. Alex Musialek is ranked 57th and Alberto Gonzalez is ranked 86th. Kentucky does not have any ranked doubles pairings.
When Last We Met
Tennessee defeated Kentucky 6-1 at home in the Goodfriend Tennis Center on a rainy day in Knoxville. The Vols took the doubles point and eventually clinched the match at 4-0 with a victory by Williams on court 3.
When Last on These Courts
The Vols captured their third SEC Tournament title -- and their first away from Knoxville -- at Kentucky's Boone Tennis Complex last season. After shutting out LSU and Mississippi by 4-0 scores, Tennessee faced Florida in the final. The Vols won a closely-contested doubles point and took a 3-0 lead thanks to straight-set wins by Smith and Fago before rain moved the match indoors. Shortly after going inside, Conkic clinched the 4-0 victory by beating Joey Burkhardt 6-0, 6-2.
For the Doubles Record
Smith broke Byron Talbot's 23-year-old Tennessee record for career doubles wins when he logged victory No. 132 with Conkic on Sunday. Top-ranked Smith and Conkic have won 11 consecutive matches entering this weekend and are 15-1 this season.
Going for 10
Sandgren has been on a tear this spring and has won all nine of his contests at the No. 3 position in dual match play. The native of Gallatin, Tenn., has flown up the rankings since January, thanks for a 14-1 start to 2011 with six wins against ranked opponents. He started off the season unranked and is now a career best No. 35.
Sandgren, who is 12-0 in his career in SEC play, is still a ways from his career-best winning streak. He won 15 in a row as a freshman.
Jones has won a career-best five consecutive matches. In his first season in the singles lineup, he has a 10-2 record.
Conkic, whose winning streak was snapped Sunday, had won 13 consecutive matches, the best by a Vol this year. Williams has the best winning streak in a career, getting 17 in a row through April and May in 2010.