The No. 14 Tennessee men's tennis team (12-5, 1-2) hits the road this weekend for two road matches against the No. 17 Florida Gators (6-5, 1-1) and the No. 48 South Carolina Gamecocks (7-7, 0-2).
After splitting their two matches in Mississippi last weekend, the Vols have honed in on improving this weekend to avoid any future slip-ups.
"We're just trying to stay as one team," junior Brandon Fickey said. "A lot of the time everybody has been individuals out on the court. We've had our downs, but with downs you get ups, and I think we're on the right path right now to having a great SEC season."
Despite losing four of the team's last seven matches, head coach Sam Winterbotham and Fickey believe that the team has been improving despite not seeing results in the win column.
"I think we've moved forward a lot," Winterbotham said. "What we need to continue to do is be consistently on the same page when we're playing matches. Guys have to do what they're doing in practice at the same time in a match."
Fickey added: "We had some new faces coming in this season, several freshmen or transfers and that took a little getting used to. Since then, everyone is learning what it means to be a Vol out here and what the team's expectations are."
Tennessee's two opponents this weekend will be two of its toughest foes on the conference schedule.
The Gators wield four nationally-ranked singles players and three ranked doubles teams, while South Carolina has been a program on the rise throughout the season.
With two difficult contests ahead, Winterbotham said he is expecting two intense matchups in hostile environments.
"Florida has great talent up and down the lineup," Winterbotham said. "They are a talent-rich state in terms of tennis. Their depth is excellent, and I feel like we just have to be ready to play our best tennis.
"South Carolina has done a great job building their program to where it is currently, and they are a very good team. We've got two tough matches ahead of us."
And in such a tough conference, playing on the road in the SEC always presents its challenges, but Winterbotham admitted he's dialed in for the trip.
"I actually like playing on the road in the SEC because the competition is so good," Winterbotham said. "The venues, the fans, it really is an event. It's a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it more than anything else."
Friday's matchup with Florida starts at 5 p.m., and the Vols will take on the Gamecocks Sunday at 1 p.m.