March 19, 2010
The second-ranked Tennessee Volunteers aim to start conference play 5-0 for the first time in 20 years Sunday when they host LSU.
The match begins at 1 p.m. at UT Varsity Courts or inside at Goodfriend Tennis Center, depending on the weather. Admission is free. A live, interactive blog and live scoring will be available at UTSports.com.
Last Time Out
In the second weekend of the SEC season, the Vols (15-1, 4-0 SEC) returned home for two more victories. They defeated Vanderbilt 6-1 on Friday and picked up their third victory against a top-10 opponent this season, downing sixth-ranked Kentucky 6-1 on Sunday.
Tennessee is off to a 4-0 start in the SEC for the first time since 2005. The last time the Vols started 5-0 was in the 1990 season, and UT finished that year with a 34-1 overall and 9-0 conference record.
LSU (4-7, 2-2) split a road trip through Mississippi last week, defeating Mississippi State 4-3 and falling short in their upset big against Ole Miss 4-3. The Tigers, ranked No. 55, host Wake Forest on Friday afternoon before making the trip to Knoxville.
Good to Be Home
The Vols are 9-0 at home this season, all of them played inside at Goodfriend Tennis Center. UT finished 11-1 in Knoxville last year, including a 5-0 record in conference.
The Award Winner
On Wednesday, junior John-Patrick Smith was named SEC Player of the Week for the third time this year and the fifth time in his career after an undefeated performance against Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Smith remains the only player to have won multiple SEC Player of the Week honors, having won in three of seven weeks.
Countdown from 3
With 97 career singles wins, Smith is only three away from the 100th in his career. Only six Vols in history have reached that milestone.
Smith, ranked second nationally, picked up his 97th win Sunday against No. 8 Eric Quigley 6-3, 6-1. He improved to 4-1 against top-10 players this year. He is now 28-5 overall this season, with 18 of his wins coming against ranked opponents.
In addition to nearing 100 wins in singles, Smith also enters Sunday's match with 94 doubles wins. Only two players in UT history have achieved 100 wins in both categories: Byron Talbot (161 singles, 131 doubles) and Shelby Cannon (140 singles, 128 doubles).
Already on the List
With more than two months remaining, Smith and senior Davey Sandgren moved into a ninth-place tie for most doubles victories in a season after logging win No. 25 against Kentucky. The win also propelled them back to No. 1 in the ITA rankings.
The school record for doubles wins in a year is 40, set by Shelby Cannon and Byron Talbot in 1986. That number is actually within reach for Smith and Sandgren, believe it or not. Including every possible postseason match, they have a maximum of 22 matches to win 15 more times and tie the record.
Alive at 13
Junior Boris Conkic and freshman Rhyne Williams, ranked fifth, enter Sunday's match with a 13-match doubles winning streak intact. They have a 22-2 record and remained in fifth in the most recent ITA poll.
Tennessee is the only school with multiple doubles pairings ranked in the top 15 -- and the Vols have three. Conkic and Smith won five matches on their way to the ITA All-American Championship and are ranked seventh.
It's No Secret
Junior Matteo Fago has said there's no big secret to his success in SEC dual matches, but it's tough to ignore the fact that he's 22-2 in his career in conference play. He's already started off 2010 with a team-leading 4-0 SEC record. As a freshman two seasons ago, he finished 11-0 and he is on pace to do that again through the first two weekends of the season.
Fago is 24-7 this season, third best on the team, and is a perfect 9-0 from the No. 6 position.
In terms of undefeated conference play, Smith at No. 1 and freshman Tennys Sandgren at No. 4 have both started off 3-0.
The Best of Days
The Vols are 6-0 on Sundays, their best record for any day of the week.