Bo Hardegree, Davey Sandgren
April 18, 2007
The Tennessee men's tennis team begins postseason play Thursday when it faces 12th-seeded Arkansas at 6 p.m. ET in the first round of the SEC Tournament hosted by LSU at the W.T. "Dub" Robinson Tennis Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.
The Vols finished the regular season with a 15-6 record, 7-4 in the SEC, which placed them in a four-way tie for the third best record in the conference. The tiebreaking system gave Tennessee a five seed. The Vols defeated Arkansas (7-21, 0-11 SEC) 7-0 on March 4 in Knoxville. Davey Sandgren, recently named second team All-SEC, clinched the win for Tennessee.
The Razorbacks are led by first-team All-SEC selection Blake Strode. Strode notched his sixth consecutive win, and his fifth straight against a ranked foe, by upsetting 24th-ranked Ken Skupski in Arkansas's last regular season match. Strode finished the regular season with an overall record in singles of 26-10, 7-4 in SEC play.
Tennessee junior Kaden Hensel looks to continue his good week. On Tuesday when the new ITA rankings came out Hensel was ranked a career-high 21st. On Wednesday, the Australian native was named to the All-SEC first team. Hensel went 8-3 in the SEC in singles, playing every match at the No. 1 position. The UT junior also led the team with 13 victories over ranked opponents.
Tennessee has had mixed results in its last six SEC tournaments but the first match has been telling. In the last six years, UT has won its first match only three times but when it does win in the first round the team has advanced all the way to the SEC championship match. The Vols last appeared in the SEC championship match in 2005. Current senior Kiril Tcherveniachki clinched all three UT wins en route to the final match.
The winner of the UT-Arkansas match faces No. 4 seed and host LSU Friday at 6 p.m. ET. Live scoring for all Tennessee matches can be found at UTsports.com.