The Tennessee men’s tennis team welcomes the Charlotte 49ers (2-0) to Knoxville on Saturday. The Volunteers will be kicking off their season at the Goodfriend Tennis Center.
In coach Woodruff’s first year on campus last spring, the team recorded 21 wins. It was the most for the program since 2013. The team had its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2015.
“We have not played (team) competition since May,” Woodruff said. “We have had this match circled since the summer.”
The Vols play their first three matches at home until February, but have a tournament scheduled in Tallahassee next weekend. The schedule presents an opportunity to get off to a hot start for the 2019 season.
“Everybody likes to play at home,” Woodruff said. “We will not have to tinker with our practice schedule (at the beginning).”
One player Woodruff will need on Saturday and the rest of the season is Scott Jones, junior from Perth, Australia. After earning All-SEC honors in 2018, he knows he will be counted on by the coaching staff and his teammates.
“Everyone loves the team aspect,” Jones said. “It brings out the emotions in a duel (match) that you cannot get in the fall.”
In the fall season last semester, Jones posted a 9-3 record in singles matches. In his first 2+ years in Knoxville, he has a 54-27 record on the singles side. He ended the fall season with a career-high ranking of 75 in ITA national rankings.
Although impressive on the individual side, Jones is more focused on the team match-ups in the spring. The 49ers present a chance to get the team off the practice courts and build on the success they had last spring.
“We have a different belief system (this year),” Jones said. “And we believe we can be really successful … it has been a long time since our last duel match, so everybody is ready to get out to the action.”
Another returning All-SEC player for the Vols is Timo Stodder, senior from Berlin, Germany. After being first team All-SEC in 2017, he earned the same honors along with an All-American nod in 2018.
In the fall, Stodder finished with a 7-2 singles record along with a 6-2 doubles record. For his career he is 79-42 on the single’s side and 57-35 on the double’s side. This spring presents one last ride for Stodder, who has reached up to No. 6 nationally.
“I look to the upperclassmen to be a light,” Woodruff said. “Everybody has a role to play and (we) just need to do our best.”
The Volunteers will take on Charlotte on Saturday starting at 10 am. Not being ranked, the Volunteers can kick their season off on the right note with a solid performance. The Tennis team beat Charlotte twice last season. On January 13th the Volunteers beat the 49ers 6-1 and 7-0.