March 26, 2009
The Tennessee men's tennis team returns to Southeastern Conference play Friday when it hosts Arkansas at noon at the Goodfriend Tennis Center. The fifth-ranked Vols (14-3, 3-1 SEC) are tied for first in the SEC Eastern Division with Georgia.
The Big Orange won the Blue Gray Tennis Classic last weekend behind the sophomore trio of Boris Conkic, Matteo Fago and John-Patrick Smith. Smith was named tournament MVP after winning all four of his singles matches at the No. 1 position in the lineup, including three victories over players ranked in the top-50 in the singles poll. The nation's seventh-ranked singles player was also named SEC Player of the Week.
Conkic and Fago combined to go 5-0 in singles play and the two teamed up to win all four of their doubles matches. Fago looks to stay undefeated in SEC regular season matches this week as the Italy native is 15-0 in his career in SEC regular season dual-matches.
Freshman Christian Hansen also had a good showing at the Blue Gray, clinching UT's wins in the semifinals and final. The Germany native has shown a knack for stepping up in the clutch for the Vols as he has now clinched four UT victories this season, three against teams ranked 30th or higher.
Arkansas (9-7, 1-3 SEC) has been led this season by senior Blake Strode. Strode is ranked 17th in singles and has a 3-2 record against players ranked in the top-10 this season. The top Razorback netter will most likely face UT's Smith, ranked seventh, on the No. 1 court Friday.
The doubles point could prove to be crucial Friday. Arkansas is 9-0 this season when they win the doubles point but 0-7 if they fall behind 1-0. UT has won the doubles point in five of its six last matches.
Tennessee defeated Arkansas 7-0 last season in Fayetteville and leads the all-time series with the Razorbacks 18-12.
All home matches are free to the public. Live scoring for those that cannot attend can be found at UTsports.com.