March 25, 2010
The second-ranked Tennessee Volunteers take a break from their Southeastern Conference schedule to play their fifth top-10 opponent this season: No. 10 Louisville.
Friday's home match against Louisville begins at 1 p.m. and will be played at either UT Varsity Courts or Goodfriend Tennis Center, depending on the weather. Live scoring and a live, interactive blog will be available at UTSports.com.
The Vols (16-1) have defeated three of four top-10 teams they've faced this year, most recently defeating then-No. 6 Kentucky 6-1 at Goodfriend Tennis Center on March 14. They are also 7-1 against teams ranked in the top 25.
Louisville (14-4) rose two spot to No. 10 in the rankings Tuesday, but suffered a 7-0 shutout to Texas A&M the day before.
Tennessee leads Louisville 5-1 in the all-time series. The Vols won last year's meeting 4-3 in Knoxville as part of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend to earn a spot in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship.
The match against Louisville will be Sam Winterbotham's 100th dual match as head coach of the Vols. Winterbotham, now in his fourth season, has a 79-20 record at Tennessee, including 29-9 in the SEC.
With Winterbotham as head coach, the Vols are 26-1 in home matches against non-conference opponents.
Last Time Out
On Sunday, the Vols shut out LSU 7-0 in their first outdoor home match of the season to remain unbeaten against Southeastern Conference opponents. The Vols had gone 20 years since the last time they started the SEC schedule 5-0. The entire singles lineup won in straight sets.
Though the match was played outside at UT Varsity Courts, the final point on court 4 was played indoors. Freshman Tennys Sandgren was serving for the win when the rain started falling, so the conclusion was moved to Goodfriend Tennis Center. Once inside, Sandgren hit a winner to seal the shutout.
Closing in on 1965
Tennessee has eight shutouts this season after sweeping LSU last week. The school record for shutouts in a season is 10, set by the 1965 team.
The Vols started the season by reeling off five consecutive shutouts -- including one against upcoming opponent South Carolina -- to tie the 1964 record for consecutive shutouts.
Whattabout the Cardinals?
This week did not start out well for No. 10 Louisville. On Monday, the Cardinals were swept 7-0 on a road trip to Texas A&M. It was the first time they had been shut out in more than three seasons.
Louisville joined Tennessee earlier this season in the field of 16 at the ITA National Indoors, finishing 1-2 in the tournament with a win over Baylor.
Countdown from 2
With 98 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 98th win Sunday against No. 46 Neal Skupski in straight sets. He is now 29-5 overall this season, with 19 of his wins coming against ranked opponents.
In addition to nearing 100 wins in singles, Smith also enters Friday's match with 95 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).
Smith is no longer the only current Vol on the career top-15 wins list, however. Junior Boris Conkic picked up his 79th win in his 100th singles match of his collegiate career Sunday against LSU to tie John Gibson for 15th all time.
Already on the List
Smith and senior Davey Sandgren are already tied for seventh for doubles wins in a season with a 26-4 record. They returned to No. 1 in the national rankings last week, and are third in the Vols' career doubles record list with 65 wins together.
Taking in all the possible postseason matches into account, Smith and Sandgren are on pace to reach Byron Talbot and Shelby Cannon's record for doubles wins in a season, earning 40 victories in 1986.
Smith and Sandgren have a maximum possibility of 21 matches to win 14 more times to tie the record. Talbot and Cannon also won 38 times in 1987, good for second.
Make That 14
Conkic and freshman Rhyne Williams have won 14 consecutive doubles matches to start the spring season, playing primarily in the No. 2 position. Still fifth in the national rankings, they have improved their season record to 23-2.
The Vols remain undefeated at the No. 2 position this year, which has been an important reason why the team has won the doubles point in all 17 matches this year. Conkic and Williams have played in that lineup position 13 times, but junior Matteo Fago and freshman Tennys Sandgren have played their twice. Davey Sandgren and freshman Edward Jones have been slotted in that position once.
Good to be Home
The Vols have won all 10 matches at home this season, nine of them played inside Goodfriend Tennis Center.