April 7, 2011
The fourth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers host South Carolina and 16th-ranked Florida in their last two home matches of the season at Barksdale Stadium this weekend.
The Vols (17-3, 7-1 SEC) first take on unranked South Carolina (6-14, 1-7) on Friday at 2 p.m. Then on Sunday, the Vols play Florida (13-6, 6-2) at 1 p.m.
Boris Conkic, Matteo Fago and John-Patrick Smith, the most accomplished senior class in program history, will play their final regular-season home match Sunday and will be honored prior to doubles competition. The three seniors, who have won nearly 350 combined singles matches in their careers, have anchored the Vols' four-year rise from a team hovering in the top 30 of the national rankings to a mainstay in the top five.
Smith, a three-time All-America and reigning SEC Player of the Year, will also be honored Sunday as the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Male Amateur Athlete of the Year.
Admission to both matches is free, and fans are requested to park in N-15, which is located north of the tennis complex. A live blog of the matches will be available at UTSports.com.
For more news and notes to kick off the tennis weekend:
Tennessee is coming off a 4-3 victory at Mississippi on Sunday, which was the Vols' first win on the Rebels' home courts since 2000. The Vols secured a decisive doubles point, headlined by Conkic and Smith's 8-0 shutout against eighth-ranked Chris and Marcel Thiemann. Singles started on only three courts because the match was played indoors, but the Vols got wins on all three to secure the victory at 4-0.
Vols Ranked Fourth
The Vols remained at the No. 4 position in the national ITA computer rankings, despite a loss last week at Mississippi State. They trail Virginia, two-time defending champion Southern California and Ohio State.
Individually, five Vols are ranked in the top 125. Rhyne Williams still leads the way at No. 4, followed by Smith at No. 12, sophomore Tennys Sandgren at No. 48, Fago at No. 56 and Conkic at No. 121.
Conkic and Smith retained their top national doubles ranking for the third ranking period thanks to five wins against opponents ranked in the top 12. Sandgren and Williams, who have played at the No. 2 position much of the season, are ranked 61st nationally.
Good to Be Home
The Vols have won their last 31 matches in Knoxville, dating to a non-conference match against Kentucky on Feb. 21, 2010. Since seniors Conkic, Fago and Smith joined the program, the Vols are 51-2 in home dual matches. Smith has won 30 consecutive singles matches in Knoxville, the longest active streak on the team.
When it comes to conference competition, the Vols have won their last 19 SEC matches at home. They are also 2-0 this year in outdoor matches in Knoxville. The other six have been played inside Goodfriend Tennis Center.
16 & Counting
Sandgren enters Friday's match with a career-best 16-match winning streak. He has been undefeated in dual matches this season while playing all but one of his matches on court 3.
Unbelievably, the sophomore from Gallatin has yet to lose in his career in conference play. Thanks to his 8-0 start this season, he now has a perfect 18-0 career record against the SEC. He finished 10-0 as a freshman at the No. 4 position.
Smith and Williams are both second on the team with six SEC wins each this season.
Conkic and Smith, ranked No. 1 nationally, have won 15 consecutive matches together at the top of the Vols' lineup. They are 19-1 this spring and 24-1 as a pairing over the last two years.
Individually, Smith is the UT career doubles leader with 138 victories and Conkic has 107.
Fago has 95 career singles victories thanks to a 23-12 start to his final season. The senior from Ceprano, Italy, is the only Vol with at least 30 career SEC dual match victories. He has a 31-8 record over his four seasons wearing Orange and White. Smith has 29 career SEC wins and is in search of No. 30 on Friday.
Two current Vols already have 100 career wins: Smith (144) and Conkic (102). Tennessee has never had three active teammates with at least 100 wins.
1 from 2
Smith is two victories away from tying Peter Handoyo (1999-2002) for second on the Vols' career singles wins list. Smith has a 144-41 career record with 88 of those wins coming against ranked opponents.