Aug. 17, 2010
Tennessee senior Boris Conkic had not competed in a professional tournament in nearly two years, but he's found early success in his return to the ITF Futures circuit in Serbia.
Conkic has played two Futures tournaments this month on the clay courts in his hometown of Novi Sad, winning a doubles title at one event and playing through qualifying all the way to the semifinals in another.
His first stop was at the Gorenje Open where he teamed up with fellow countryman Ivan Djurdjevic to knock off the top seed in the semifinals and clinch the doubles title, his first since 2007.
Last week, he played in the Meridiana Open and received a wildcard into the qualifying draw. His second round qualifying match against Marin Bradaric proved to be a real test of endurance as Conkic rallied down a set to defeat Bradaric 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4) in a competition that lasted 4 hours, 55 minutes.
In his first match in the main draw, Conkic upset third-seeded Dusan Lajovic by a lopsided 6-2, 6-2 score. Lajovic was coming off a title championship at the Gorenje Open and was ranked No. 464 in the ATP world rankings.
Conkic played his way into the semifinals where he lost to Aldin Setkic, the No. 1 seed and eventual champion.
Conkic is competing in ITF Futures tournaments throughout the fall semester and is working on building his ATP ranking. Prior arriving at Tennessee as a freshman in 2007, he had been ranked as high as No. 574 in singles and No. 560 in doubles.
Conkic, who has been on the All-SEC team all three years of his college career, will rejoin the Vols in January. He is scheduled to graduate in May with a degree in Sport Management.
SEC Indoors Returns to UT
Tennessee is still finalizing its schedule, but one tournament can be penciled into the 2011 spring calendar: the SEC Coaches Indoor Championships in Knoxville from Jan. 14-17.
The tournament is returning to Tennessee's home courts for the first time in 13 years and appropriately will serve as the inaugural event inside a newly renovated Goodfriend Tennis Center. When the Vols last hosted the SEC Indoors in 1998, Goodfriend was opening its doors for the first time. In 2011, the tournament will showcase the facility's two brand-new courts.
Construction on Goodfriend Tennis Center began immediately after the Vols and Lady Vols hosted the first two rounds of NCAA Tennis Championships in May. The number of courts will be expanded from the original four to six, enough for full dual matches. New locker rooms, players' lounges and renovated coaches' offices are also part of this first phase of construction at the complex.
The Vols boast the previous two SEC Indoors champions: Conkic last season and Smith in 2009.
Summing up the Summer
Tennessee natives Williams and Sandgren were two of 13 college players selected to the USTA Summer Collegiate Team and played in several Futures events around the country, including stops in Rochester, N.Y.; Pittsburgh; Peoria, Ill.; and Joplin, Mo.
Williams and Sandgren did not a play collegiate match together during the spring but had a successful run in doubles in Futures events, going 7-2 in three tournaments. They were semifinalists in Rochester and then captured the Men's Futures of Pittsburgh championship a week later, which was the first pro doubles title for either player.
Williams almost nabbed the singles title at Pittsburgh as well. He won the tournament as a 16-year-old in 2007 and returned to the championship match in July before falling to third-seeded Adam El Mihdawy. Williams later reached the semifinals of the Futures tournament in Peoria, Ill.
By all accounts, the summer was productive for Williams. He had an 8-3 record and climbed nearly 600 positions to a career-best No. 768 in the ATP Tour rankings.
Sandgren posted a 2-5 singles record in Futures events.
Davey Sandgren Joins Staff
Head coach Sam Winterbotham announced Davey Sandgren will be a student assistant with the Vols during the fall season. Sandgren, a two-time All-America, finished his eligibility in May following his second appearance with John-Patrick Smith in the NCAA Doubles Championship.
He is on track to graduate in December with a degree in Aerospace Engineering.
ITA Rankings Countdown
The ITA will release its national preseason singles and doubles rankings Sept. 3, and a few Vols should make that exclusive list. Tennessee finished the 2010 season with five players ranked in singles and three teams ranked in doubles.
Smith, now a senior, ended the spring season ranked second nationally in singles and third in doubles. He has been ranked in the top 10 in singles since Feb. 19, 2009.
In addition to Smith, three returning Vols who ended the season nationally ranked include Williams (No. 30), Conkic (No. 35) and Tennys Sandgren (No. 114). Matt Brewer, who graduated in May, ended his UT career ranked No. 117.