Tennessee's men's tennis team has been tabbed as the No. 6 seed for this week's SEC tournament, which takes place Thursday through Sunday in Nashville. The No. 15-ranked Volunteers (13-7, 6-5 SEC) will face No. 11-seeded Mississippi State in opening-round action Thursday at 12:30 p.m.
Vanderbilt plays host to this year's tournament at the Brownlee O. Currey Tennis Complex.
"Mississippi State has struggled this season because their No. 1 player, Romain Ambert, has been injured," UT coach Michael Fancutt said. "He's one of the top players in the country, and with him back (in the lineup, MSU is) one of the toughest teams in the SEC. We know we're in for a battle."
Tennessee defeated Mississippi State 4-3 March 21 in Starkville, Miss. The Bulldogs won the doubles point in that contest (one of only three regular-season doubles-point losses for the Vols), but UT claimed four of the six singles matches with Ambert out of action.
Mississippi State finished the regular season with a 7-12 (2-9) record under third-year head coach Sylvain Guichard. The Bulldogs only conference wins came against Alabama and Auburn. MSU is currently ranked No. 37 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association team rankings. Ambert, a senior and two-time All-America honoree, is ranked No. 31 in the ITA singles poll.
Since Fancutt took over the Tennessee program in 1998, the Vols are 8-5 in SEC tournament matches. UT won the tournament in 2002 while playing host to the event in Knoxville.
Tennessee owns an al-time SEC tournament record of 17-12 since the event's inception in 1990. The Vols claimed the title that year, as well as in 2002. UT reached the quarterfinals of the tournament in 1992, which marked the only other time that Vanderbilt has hosted the event. The Vols are 0-2 versus Mississippi State in the tournament, with losses in 1991 and 1995.
The winner of Thursday's first-round matchup will advance to face No. 3-seeded Georgia (15-5, 7-4) Friday at 12:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals.