Bama men's tennis opens SEC play on the road this weekend

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The 29th-ranked Alabama men's tennis team (7-2) will play its first Southeastern Conference matches of the season when it heads to No. 2 Tennessee (9-1) and No. 13 Georgia (8-3) on Friday, March 4, and Sunday, March 6, respectively. First serve against both teams is set for 1 p.m. CT.

"We've had a good start to our season, but this weekend begins a new portion of the year with league matches taking place," Alabama Head Coach Billy Pate said. "It's about as challenging an opening week as you could ask for playing at Tennessee and at Georgia, but it's also a fantastic opportunity. The team is eager to play again after having good results this past weekend. We need to focus on improving each match, and that starts this Friday in Knoxville."

Last weekend, the Crimson Tide played in the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic going 2-1 en route to winning the consolation draw finals. Alabama dropped its first match to eventual champion No. 21 Pepperdine, 4-0, but came back to finish strong with 4-1 wins over No. 69 Penn State and No. 46 Arizona. Both junior Michael Thompson and freshman Daniil Proskura went 2-0 in singles, with Thompson remaining undefeated on the season at 7-0.

The Volunteers last played on Feb. 21, when they were swept 4-0 by No. 1 Virginia in the finals of the ITA National Indoor Championships. Prior to that, Tennessee had won its first nine matches giving up, at most, two points per outing.

Alabama is 11-36 all-time against Tennessee. In the last meeting, which took place on March 7, 2010, the Volunteers won 4-1.

Georgia enters the weekend on a three-match winning streak, having most recently swept Furman at home. The Bulldogs are 6-0 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in 2011 thus far.

Georgia leads the all-time series against the Tide 50-8 with the last meeting going in the Bulldogs' favor, 4-2, on March 5, 2010.

Next up, Alabama returns home to face No. 11 Florida and South Carolina. The Tide will play the Gators on Friday, March 11, at 2 p.m. CT and the Gamecocks on Sunday, March 13, at 1 p.m. CT.