Vols vs New Mexico
Pat Harper celebrates after scoring during the Men's Tennis opening game against New Mexico, in the Goodfriend Tennis Center on January 18, 2020.

The No. 6 Vols (24-7) are set to play in their third straight NCAA Super Regionals against No. 28 Florida State (18-10), who is making a surprise run to the Round of 16 after upsetting No. 11 Georgia.

Tennessee previously defeated Tennessee Tech and No. 22 Duke, and looks to advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the second straight year, a feat that the Vols haven’t done since 2010 and 2011.

The Super Regional matchup marks the first between Florida State and Tennessee in 46 years, with the Vols holding a 4-1 record in the all-time series. Despite the Seminoles being ranked just 28th, head coach Chris Woodruff has been known not to play the rankings game all season.

Well, they beat Georgia and all you need to know is that they are one of the 16 teams left as are we,” Woodruff said. “It’s tough to go down and win at Athens you know they won the doubles point. They play good doubles so we’ll have to be ready and take no one lightly.”

After a gut-wrenching loss last year in the Final Four to Baylor, the Vols have much to prove in this year’s tournament. With Baylor on Tennessee’s side of the bracket, the Vols could face a rematch in the next round. The Vols defeated No. 3 Baylor in the ITA semifinals earlier in the season, but a win over the Bears to end their season would taste much sweeter.

“It was a heartbreaking loss last year,” senior Pat Harper said. “I know a lot of us don’t want to feel that pain again so there is definitely more urgency to win this round and get to the final. Hopefully we can get past Florida State and we might matchup with Baylor again so things could get interesting.”

The Vols will be hosting their last match in Barksdale for the dual season with hopes of not making it the last match in general as they look to bring home the championship back to Knoxville for the first time.

The Vols have a very experienced roster that has a lot to prove after a 2022 dual season filled with many challenges. Everyone in the singles and doubles lineup outside of freshman Shunsuke Mitsui and transfer Emile Hudd, who has three years of college tennis under his belt, returned from last year.

As seen earlier in the season with a win over current No. 1 TCU and holding the No. 1 ranking before Johannus Monday’s injury, Tennessee has shown that that it can compete among the nation’s best when playing the tennis that it knows it can.

“We have to play well,” Woodruff said. “I don’t think we ever have to play exceptional, we just have to be ourselves. We talked about that in the rain delay at Duke. I said, ‘Hey guys you don’t have to be exceptional you just have to go out there and play yourself and do things you’ve already done before and call on past experiences.’ If we do that the rest will fall into place.”

First serve versus Florida State is scheduled for 4 p.m. EST on Saturday.

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