April 21, 2011
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The second-ranked Tennessee Volunteers begin their bid for back-to-back SEC Championship titles this weekend.
As the top seed in the tournament, the Vols received a first-round bye and face Mississippi on Friday at 6 p.m. Eastern. A live blog of all the action will be available at UTSports.com.
For news and notes entering the conference tournament:
Tennessee captured its second consecutive SEC title with a 4-3 victory at fifth-ranked Georgia last week in the season finale. The Vols took the doubles point, then picked up singles wins from Boris Conkic, Rhyne Williams and John-Patrick Smith.
The Vols finished the conference season with a 20-3 overall record and a 10-1 mark in the SEC.
Return to No. 2
With the victory at Georgia, the Vols moved from fourth back to second in the ITA national team rankings. They trail only Virginia, the only other team besides Tennessee to have held the No. 1 ranking this year.
Individually, the Vols have four players in the singles rankings. Williams leads the way after moving up to the No. 3 spot, followed by Smith at No. 11, Tennys Sandgren at No. 54 and Matteo Fago at No. 73.
In doubles, Conkic and Smith kept the top ranking despite having their 17-match winning streak snapped last week at Georgia. Sandgren and Williams, now on a four-match winning streak, are ranked 52nd.
Last Time Against Mississippi
Mississippi shut out Vanderbilt in its first round match Thursday evening to set up Friday's quarterfinal rematch against Tennessee. The Vols won the regular-season meeting 4-3 at Mississippi in a match played indoors.
While the score finished close, Tennessee won the doubles point and eventually clinched the match at 4-0 courtesy of a three-set victory by Smith on court 1. Here is a look at the box score:
Tennessee 4, Mississippi 3
1. #12 John-Patrick Smith (UT) def. #40 Marcel Thiemann (OM) 6-2, 5-7, 6-1
2. #4 Rhyne Williams (UT) def. Tucker Vorster (OM) 6-4, 6-0
3. #48 Tennys Sandgren (UT) def. Jonas Lutjen (OM) 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3
4. Chris Thiemann (OM) def. #58 Matteo Fago (UT) 6-3, 6-7(5), 1-0(6)
5. Johan Backstrom (OM) def. #121 Boris Conkic (UT) 4-4, ret.
6. Adrian Forberg Skogeng (OM) vs. Ed Jones (UT) 5-2, ret.
1. #1 Conkic-Smith (UT) def. #8 Thiemann-Thiemann (OM) 8-0
2. #61 Williams-Sandgren (UT) def. Lutjen-Backstrom (OM) 8-5
3. Vorster-Skogeng (OM) vs. Jones-Fago (UT) 7-6, sus.
Order of Finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (2,3,1,4,5,6
A Look at the 2010 Tournament
The Vols hoisted the SEC Championship trophy by pulling off a feat no team had ever accomplished: they shut out all three opponents on their way to the title for the first time in tournament history.
Here is a match-by-match at the Vols' results:
Quarterfinals: Tennessee 4, LSU 0
Semifinals: Tennessee 4, Mississippi 0
Final: Tennessee 4, Florida 0
Smith was named tournament MVP for his 3-0 record at the top of the singles lineup. Conkic, who delivered the last point against Florida in the final match, was named to the all-tournament team.
The Three Titles
Tennessee is tied with Florida and Mississippi for second in the conference with three SEC titles. The Vols won the tournament in 1990, 2002 and 2010. Georgia leads the SEC with seven championships.
Three schools have repeated SEC tournament titles: LSU (1998 and 1999), Georgia (2006 and 2007) and Mississippi (2008 and 2009).
The SEC Championships in Florida
The end-of-season SEC Championships has only been in its current format since 1990, and this week marks the second time Florida has hosted the event. The Gators last held the tournament in 1999 when LSU won its second title. The Vols reached the quarterfinals that year.
9 Wins Apiece
Individually, few teams have enjoyed the success at the top of the lineup as the Vols have this season. Smith and sophomore Rhyne Williams both won nine matches at the 1 and 2 positions in singles, and sophomore Tennys Sandgren went 10-1 on court 3.
In doubles, Williams and Sandgren finished 9-2 on court 2 in their first season as a pairing. Smith, last season's SEC Player of the Year, was 9-2 with eight wins coming with Conkic on court 1 and another with freshman Jarryd Chaplin on court 2.
Fago has 97 career singles victories thanks to a 25-13 start to his final season, putting him only three wins away from the 100-win milestone.
Two current Vols already have 100 career wins: Smith (147) and Conkic (105). Tennessee has never had three active teammates with at least 100 wins.