Vols Men’s Tennis eye a return to the NCAA postseason

For this team to stay the course, Coach Woodruff said it’ll take more than their experience.
Big Orange Tip Off Texas at UT
Published: Jan. 28, 2023 at 12:31 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - In consecutive years, Tennessee’s Men’s tennis team made deep postseason runs and were SEC Champions in 2021.

In 2023, they hope to move their name one spot closer to the national championship match. Head Coach Chris Woodruff has been bringing success in just five seasons on Rocky Top.

“Perseverance, I mean, this is an industry where, you know, there are a lot of highs and a lot of lows and learning how to handle the success. It kind of comes down to is it harder to get to where we are, is it harder to stay, and really just a lot of hard work is how we’ve gotten to where we are now,” said Woodruff.

Seven of Tennessee’s nine roster spots are filled by either a graduate student or a senior. One of which is Emile Hudd, who transferred to Tennessee a season ago and quickly became a pivotal piece to this team.

“I mean, I think all three coaches do a great job of telling us what our strengths are and believing in us,” said Hudd. “And when we got in the court to know that we have three coaches who believe in us and have that trust in us. It helps us in the biggest moments, so I can’t express how much that helped us all.”

Coach Woodruff added what’s impressed him about Hudd’s development since arriving to Tennessee, “Over the last year, especially the last eight or nine months, he’s really tried to step it up. And coming from he was and the role he’s asked to play now and it’s singles and doubles and a voice of wisdom. Really proud of him and it makes me happy to talk about how far he’s come.”

After a 4-0 start to the season, the Vols narrowly dropped back-to-back road games to ranked opponents. Now they returned to Knoxville for a few matches, eager to correct their mistakes.

“When you’re playing the best teams, the margins are so fine,” said Hudd. “Sometimes it doesn’t go your way, but we’ve we’ve talked about it, we’ve understood where we went wrong, and now we have this weekend where we’re looking to make amends and get back right on track.”

Woodruff added, “For two matches, it’s, you know, I don’t want to say irrelevant or inconsequential, but, you know, there are things that we can improve on and just by staying the course.”

For this team to stay the course, Coach Woodruff said it’ll take more than their experience.

“As I’ve talked to them about, we can get to this, you know, point over and over and over and over again,’ said Woodruff. “And I can tell you well the head coach really believes in you, and we trust one another, but at the end of the day, when they look in the mirror, they’re gonna have to solve that issue of Can I or can’t I?”

In their first match back home, the Vols swept Louisiana 4-0. Up next is a match on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. against Oklahoma.