March 27, 2010
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The countdown has been going on for weeks, and junior John-Patrick Smith now stands just one victory away from becoming the seventh Volunteer in history to log 100 career singles wins.
Smith, ranked second nationally, picked up career win No. 99 on Friday with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Louisville's No. 31 Austen Childs.
He has a chance to record his 100th win Sunday against Arkansas' No. 1 man, 49th-ranked Christopher Nott. The Vols' road match against the Razorbacks begins at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, which is 30 minutes earlier than originally scheduled.
Smith has a 30-5 record this season, with 20 of those wins coming against ranked opponents. He won the singles and doubles titles at the ITA All-American Championships during the fall and has been a factor at the top of the Vols' lineup, going 12-1 in dual matches.
Junior Boris Conkic has also been scaling the career list. He is currently 14th on the wins chart with 80. One more win would put him in a tie for 13th with associate head coach Chris Woodruff (1992-93) and Fabio Silberberg (1989-91).
Against the Hogs
Tennessee (17-1, 5-0 SEC) is off to its best start in the Southeastern Conference since going 34-1 and a perfect 9-0 in 1990. The Vols have beaten Arkansas (9-8, 1-4) three times in the last three seasons, outscoring the Razorbacks 20-1 in those matches.
Last season, the Vols defeated Arkansas 6-1 in Knoxville. When the two teams last squared off in Fayetteville in 2007, the Vols earned a 7-0 shutout against the Razorbacks.
Arkansas is coming off a 6-0 loss to Georgia last week.
In Pursuit of a Team Record
After posting a 7-0 shutout against No. 10 Louisville on Friday, the Vols now have nine dual match shutouts this season. The school record for shutouts in a season is 10, set in 1965.
This year's Vols have already tied the 1964 UT record for consecutive shutouts, after sweeping their first five opponents to start the season.
Some Math to Consider
Smith and senior Davey Sandgren are already tied for seventh for doubles wins in a season with a 27-4 record. They returned to No. 1 in the national rankings last week, and are third in the Vols' career doubles record list with 66 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 20 matches to win 13 more times to tie the record. Talbot and Cannon also won 38 times in 1987, good for second.
Alive at 15
Conkic and freshman Rhyne Williams have won 15 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 24-2. 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 18 matches this year. Conkic and Williams have played in that lineup position 14 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.
SEC Spells Success
Few players have won conference matches with the consistency that Fago has over the last three seasons. He has a 23-2 career record in SEC dual matches.
During his freshman season, Fago became the first Vol in 15 years to go a perfect 11-0 in SEC play. Well, guess what? He may well be on pace to do that again this season. He has started SEC play 5-0 at the No. 6 position.
Two other Vols are still undefeated in SEC play: Smith at No. 1 and Tennys Sandgren at No. 4 are both 4-0. They were not able to complete their matches against Alabama.
Brewer Looks to Join 20-Win Club
Senior Matt Brewer needs just one more win to have 20 singles victories this season. He has a 19-8 record this season and has an active four-match winning streak for the first time in his career.
Four Vols already have at least 20 wins this season: Smith (30), Williams (27), Fago (26) and Conkic (23). Fago surpassed his previous season high of 19 several weeks ago.
Last season, only three Vols finished the season with 20 wins: Smith (36), Conkic (29) and Fago (20).
A live, interactive blog of Sunday's match against Arkansas will be available at UTSports.com. Business as usual.