Vols vs New Mexico
Luca Wiedenmann prepares to return a serve during the Men's Tennis opening game against New Mexico, in the Goodfriend Tennis Center on January 18, 2020.

Tennessee spent last weekend off and at home after the Vols failed to make the ITA Championships. They fell in the ITA Kick-Off Championship to Columbia last month.

Instead, Tennessee got a hard week of training in as the Vols prepare to get going in the gauntlet of SEC play.

“I think we had a great period of practicing,” senior Luca Wiedenmann said. “We worked really hard. Coaches scheduled practices really well, and also on court I feel like everyone is locked in. I feel like everyone is really focusing on what’s to come.”

“Last week was tough,” associate head coach James McKie said. “We upped it a little bit in terms of our training and conditioning, but we should see hopefully rewards coming up.”

Tennessee is off to a strong start in 2020. After opening the season ranked at the bottom of the polls, the Vols have opened the season 10-1, including a pair of ranked wins. The Big Orange’s strong start has earned them the No. 10 ranking in the ITA poll.

“Yeah, honestly the ranking doesn’t even matter to us,” Wiedenmann said. “It’s early in the season and it counts what’s at the end of the season. … I think we’re really finding it. It’s starting to look good now, I think.”

Tennessee is riding momentum, headed into its final bout before SEC play begins next weekend. The Vols have worked their way into a good position, but still have plenty of work to do to finish the season the way they want.

“I think the guys are ready, but one thing we always say is one match at a time,” McKie said. “They know they can do well. They know they’re a really good team. They just have to play one match at a time and that starts next Friday in Athens.”

Before the two week break, Tennessee picked up its third road win of the season. The Vols went to Durham and overcame an early deficit against Duke to win 6-1, including six three set wins.

“I think that showed us a lot, even for me as a coach,” McKie said. “Being down in that situation you have six guys out there you trust, and you believe in, and anything can happen. That’s exactly what happened. To win six three-setters is pretty much unheard of and I think our guys took a lot of confidence from that.”

The win was an impressive one for Tennessee as the Vols showed resilience in the comeback. It was a positive sign for the coaching staff, especially considering the number of lopsided wins the Vols have had this season.

Before Tennessee can start SEC play, they’ll face a difficult task hosting 6-2 Georgia Tech at the Goodfriend Tennis Center. The Yellow Jackets’ two losses came against top 25 opponents Georgia and Texas A&M. Georgia Tech has picked up quality wins versus Auburn and Oregon.

“Good team. Good team,” Wiedenmann said. “Definitely will not be easy. Have to be there. I’m expecting a tight match. We’ll definitely have to be prepared.”

“Good team,” McKie said. “Very good team. I think they’re a top 25 team no doubt. They’ve got three or four new guys, so we have to be ready for a real match.”

Friday’s match will start at 6 p.m. ET at the Goodfriend Tennis Center.

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