Conference home openers in any college sport are always special due to the thrilling idea of garnering a win over a conference rival in front of a cheering crowd.

What makes them even more special is if the home team has a shot to land a big upset win over one of the top-ranked teams in the country.

The No. 49 Tennessee women's tennis team has just that opportunity today at Barksdale Stadium.

The Lady Vols (4-7, 0-3) host the second-ranked Florida Gators (11-2, 3-0) at 4 p.m. with an opportunity to get a season-defining win in front of a friendly crowd.

Winning would not only give the Lady Vols their first conference win, but could provide the young team with an extreme confidence boost.

Tennessee women's co-head coach Mike Patrick, however, said the first expectation for the women's match is improvement.

"Like I have said all year long, we are a team that has got to work on keep getting better," Patrick said. "We have got a lot freshmen, we have four or five freshmen in the starting lineup every week. It's always a new experience.

"We are getting better every week, but it takes a while. We are competing hard and we need to learn how to finish and be able to go toe-toe with those good teams."

Patrick recognized that the match against Florida is no easy challenge as he praised the Gators for their work ethic, noting UF's lack of weaknesses.

Patrick also listed the benefits of playing one of the nation's top teams, pointing out that observing film of Florida can teach his young players what it takes to be one of the best.

Junior Joanna Henderson said she's aware of the significance of getting a win against Florida, but agreed with her coach that the most important thing is getting better.

"I mean that would be huge," Henderson said. "I mean, right now we are just looking to work on things that we have been practicing on this week. It was a tough weekend last week, but we learned a lot of things.

"We just really need to compete and go out right now and show the standard that we are at."

In the midst of preparing against a tough opponent and focusing on improvement, Henderson admitted she is also excited to play a conference opponent at home for the first time.

"I love playing at home personally. I know the team is really exciting to get going," Henderson said. "It is a tough opening match against Florida on Friday night, but we are all ready to go."

The Lady Vols will also play the No. 54 South Carolina Gamecocks on Sunday at Barksdale Stadium. That match is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.