Two Tennessee men’s tennis players competed Monday in the finals of the ITA Ohio Valley Regional Championship at the Goodfriend Tennis Center in Knoxville.
The day opened with the doubles final, as Timo Stodder and Preston Touliatos of Tennessee fell in consecutive sets 6-4, 6-4 to Belmont’s Hendrick Inno and Marko Illics. Stodder would turn things around later in the day with a singles title.
“The doubles was very disappointing,” head coach Chris Woodruff said. “Belmont came out, and started out probably better than we did, but we didn’t play very well.”
After dropping the first set 6-4, the Vols lost the first two games of the second set and looked to be in trouble. However, Stodder and Touliatos fought back winning the next three games before surrendering three of the last four to the Bruins duo.
“I couldn’t really help Preston (Touliatos) today,” Stodder said. “It was tough. The other opponents were playing well. We just couldn’t really play our tactics.”
Stodder, a 2018 All-American, had a quick turnaround playing in the solo championship just a little over an hour after dropping the doubles final.
“Thinking back from last year, I lost the final really quick,” Stodder said. “So I just wanted to make sure I’m getting out there and starting really well, and just wanted to do everything better than last year.”
He did just that.
The Berlin, Germany, native dominated the first set, winning 6-1. Stodder went on to win the second set 6-3, securing a tournament victory by defeating Middle Tennessee State University’s Gonzallo Morell in the final.
Stodder struggled early on in the tournament before hitting his stride on Sunday, defeating Indiana’s Zac Brodley and Antonio Cembellen in two sets each.
“I think it was really good that we were ascending each match,” Woodruff said. “Timo (Stodder), from the quarters, semis, finals was getting better. That’s what the really good players do.”
Stodder credits an improved mindset as the weekend progressed to the improvement of his play.
“I was struggling with myself, complaining about everything…and from round-to-round people came up to me and were like ‘Just shut up and do your thing’,” Stodder said. “That’s what I tried to work on, and it got better and better from round-to-round and today I felt great, and I felt like I dominated so that he couldn’t really play his game.”
Going forward the Vols’ will look to improve in doubles play.
“Focus on doubles, that’s my biggest concern,” Woodruff said. “We’re going to start doing doubles over and over again.”
The next time out for the Vols will be Oct. 27 through Nov. 7 in Birmingham, Alabama, as players will compete in the US F29 Futures. The event will overlap with the Vols’ final home event of the fall season on Nov. 3 through Nov. 11 as they host the Knoxville Challenger.
The Vols will finish the fall season as select players will compete in the ITA National Fall Championships in Surpise, Arizona.