The men’s tennis team played Charlotte on Saturday to kick off the 2019 spring season. The two teams played a double header at Goodfriend Tennis Center where the first match began at 10 a.m. and the second at 3 p.m.
During the first match, the 19th-ranked Tennessee men’s team lost the doubles point. Tennessee fared much better in their singles matches as they won four of six first sets in singles. Some veteran presences, and promising newcomers, achieved victory by winning in straight sets to set the team up for a 4-3 victory in the first match.
The second match started much like the first as Tennessee dropped their doubles point with only Stodder/Touliatos winning their doubles match. However, the entire team rallied again in the singles matches as they won all six matches in straight sets. Tennessee beat Charlotte 6-1 in the second match.
“Doubles is a lot harder to get compared to singles. If you look across the country, everybody for the most part is trying to find doubles combinations at the point in the year,” head coach Chris Woodruff said. “Personalities is a big part of it, we have a lot of young guys and I like to play doubles a certain way and it takes a little bit of time to get us to that place. It is tough to get the doubles right at the start because everything just happens so fast.”
Freshman Pat Harper was sensational on Saturday as he won his first doubles match while being paired with Adam Walton, 6-1. Harper also won both of his singles today, with the final scores being 6-4, 6-4 in the 1st match and 6-1, 6-3 in the 2nd match.
“It feels really good to start the season with a pretty good win. I’m feeling pretty confident right now, and I love playing with Adam [Walton].” Harper said. “I’ve played a lot with him and I feel we really click a lot. I felt good to get two wins in my singles,”
Another player who performed well on Saturday was Timo Stodder. While he did lose his first doubles match, he was able to find his groove and won his second doubles match with his partner, Touliatos, and his two remaining singles matches.
“We just know each other pretty well,” Touliatos said. “We have been together for four years and we have found a good mixture on what he is going to do on the court and what I’m going to do. We just are always making sure to play to each others strengths.”
Other notable moments in Saturday’s play consisted of freshman Martim Prata’s debut for UT. The Lisbon, Portugal native won the first set of his singles match but eventually lost to Charlotte’s Henry Lieberman 2-6, 6-1, 6-1.
Stodder ended today with 81 career singles victories, which is tied for 20th in Tennessee program history. Stodder is tied with Fabio Silberberg and his coach Chris Woodruff. The German countrymen is 18 more victories away from reaching the top 10.
Scott Jones played the highest in the lineup of his collegiate career, and he also begins the spring ranked No. 75, which is his career-best.
“I challenged Scotty Jones a little bit, move him higher in the lineup. He may or may not play there, but I wanted to see what he had. I thought everyone responded.” Woodruff said.
Tennessee next heads to Florida State next week for the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. This is a two day qualifier for the national indoor championships. On January 26 at 11 a.m. the Vols compete against Tulane while FSU plays Texas Tech.